Does Reality TV Make Mean Girls?

Reality TV is to blame for the Regina Georges of the world or at least that’s the takeaway from a new study by the Girl Scouts Research Institute surveying 1,144 girls aged 11 to 17.

Are reality TV shows making mean girls?

According to the survey, teen girls who watch shows like Jersey Shore, The Hills and The Real Housewives expect more drama, aggression and bullying in their lives.

“78% of regular viewers agreed that ‘gossiping is a normal part of a relationship between girls,’ compared with 54% of non-viewers. 68% agreed that ‘it’s in girls’ nature to be catty and competitive with one another,’ while only 50% of non-viewers thought so. And 63% of reality TV viewers said ‘it’s hard for me to trust other girls,’ compared with half of non-viewers.” [via]

If that’s not disturbing enough, apparently 8 out of 10 girls believe that shows like The Hills and Jersey Shore are “true to life.”


Of course, there are some smart young ladies who realize that reality TV sets a bad example. 86% said shows “often pit girls against each other to make the shows more exciting”; and 70% agreed that reality TV makes “people think it’s okay to treat others badly.”

Girls are expecting crazy fights like this. Photo: Fanpop

But most reality TV watchers agreed on some scary success tactics; You have to lie to get what you want, being mean earns you more respect and you have to be mean to others to get what you want.

Draya learned "her place" on Basketball Wives when she was called "Worthless." Photo: VH1

Being mean isn’t enough though. Girls who watch reality TV place more value upon physical appearance ( 72%), compared with 42% of girls who didn’t watch reality shows. About 38% of reality TV viewers also agreed that girls are valued based on their appearance. And most agreed they rather be judged by outer-beauty than inner-beauty.

Girls who watch reality TV value physical appearance more than those who don't watch.

Believe it or not, the study does bare some good news. Apparently 68% of girls who watch reality TV credit the programming for making them feel like they could achieve anything in life. They also credit reality TV for diversity, saying:

“Seventy-five percent of girls say that reality TV depicts people with different backgrounds and beliefs. Furthermore, 65% say such shows introduce new ideas and perspectives, 62% say the shows have raised their awareness of social issues and causes, and 59% have been taught new things that they wouldn’t have learned about otherwise.”

Well, now that you’ve gotten through all those numbers, what do you think? Scary or over-hyped? Either way, I’m sure we’ll be seeing way more Snooki’s in our future.

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7 Comments

Filed under Let's Ponder, Stats and Issues

7 responses to “Does Reality TV Make Mean Girls?

  1. Is it just me or are the Girl Scouts acting like this is a sudden trend? There are some early RW/RR seasons where the storylines are built completely around the mean girls.

    The thing about reality shows is that they are incredibly manipulative. Typically producers cast people who are not the most stable individuals to create drama and boost ratings. I can recognize that because I’ve seen my fair share of reality shows. Let’s hope the young girls watching reality shows recognize that as well.

  2. Katie

    How are there so many girls that can’t see that these shows are faked, manipulated and created solely for ratings? It’s really scary that girls are taking this crap in and churning out the same behavior in the real world.

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