Group Dynamics and the Public Sphere

Psychology in the Public Sphere

What do we know about celebrity worship?

One area that has received some attention in the research literature is that of celebrity worship. Several studies have looked at it from an absorption-addiction model, suggesting that extreme forms of celebrity worship may reflect a kind of addiction. Other research has found that mild forms of celebrity worship are quite common and unrelated to psychopathology, while more extreme forms do seem correlated with emotional disturbance.

In a 2003 study, John Maltby, James Houran, and Lynn McCutcheon administered the Celebrity Attitudes scale and a personality measure known as the Revised Eysenck Personality Questionnaire to 219 students and 390 community residents. They found modest but statistically significant associations between different kinds of celebrity worship and different personality traits. People who engaged in celebrity worship for social and entertainment purposes were more likely to score high on extraversion, an adaptive personality trait. People who had an intense and personal investment in celebrity worship scored high on neuroticism, which reflects an anxious and depressive emotional reactivity. Finally, people who scored high on the borderline pathological form of celebrity worship, the most disturbed form, scored high on psychoticism. In Eysenck’s scale, psychoticism is less about psychosis than about aggression, psychopathy, and social alienation.


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