The Psychology Behind I’m A Celebrity

Soon we will be tuning in once more to beat the winter blues by watching the new arrivals in the Australian Jungle. The campmates have been carefully selected, and evaluated by the show’s psychologists and psychiatrists to assess their psychological fitness to endure three weeks of stress and endurance. They will be living in very unnatural environments for the three weeks and will experience various levels of psychological intensity and invariable levels of coping skills to become King or Queen of the Jungle. We can recall Tracy Solomon’s hilarious giggles and the effervescent Joe Swash, now her new beau, and last year’s Vicky Pattison. But have you really thought about the effects this exposure has on their individual psyche and physiology? Here is a glimpse into the work of the TV psychologist who would be a consultant to the show and what producers need to take into account in the production of the show. As a Celebrity Psychologist who has studied their behavior on and off-screen for many years I want to outline the major psychological issues they have to deal with.

1. The Power of the Situation

They will evaluate other campmates motivation and fears on the Bushtucker trials and become competitive. If the viewers bring their own negativities to individual celebrities by voting them onto more Bushtucker trials then the Celebs motivation center is alarmed to push themselves to the limits to “save face”. Personality and power of the situation work together to predict celebrities social behavior in the Jungle.

2. Impression Formation.

All campmates are out to impress and whilst we know from psychological and media research they score high on Narcissism traits in most cultures, nevertheless, they will be motivated to show their other side some of the time, but not all of the time. Levels of male and female physical attractiveness will make a first impression on viewers and this will influence voting behavior, their psychological makeup comes second. Viewers agree on who is hot and who is not! People have a strong tendency to associate physical beauty with positive personality characteristics. If a campmate views another campmate as more attractive, then he or she will see that other person as a possible alliance. In past series of I’m A Celebrity these alliances often become Jungle romances with potential for off-screen romance. Attractive females form an onscreen alliance with attractive males in the Jungle. (Maybe not facilitated by the Leeches!) campmates will also work out who is not to be trusted and who will stab them in the back, so to speak. Bring out the Lady C to put the camp in order. Alliances are vital as people have to stay alive and survive in restricted diets so strategizing is central. Getting people to like you means a lot. Watch out for deception and deceit in the camp as campmates will gradually disclose what information they disclose to others. Manipulation of information and personalities will become established within the first three days of being there. The most common strategy contestants use is self-promotion. They champion their own cause by extolling their own virtues, demonstrating their abilities and minimizing their shortcomings. Supplication will be used and seen by those who constantly remark about tiredness hunger diet and lethargy.

3. Lights, Camera, Attraction.

A wide range of emotions will be displayed in the Jungle as the campmates’ emotional mechanisms in the brain will be stretched to their full capacity. Winning a Bushtucker trial will bring immense joy and self-satisfaction winning a meal for their campmates. High arousal during some of the trials will produce emotions of love for some campmates.

4. Stress and Coping in the Jungle environment.

Stress produces dominance in some individual campmates and so we see a shift in the parameters of the game. To combat the stress some campmates will form alliances rather spontaneously, becoming an extremely important and predominant gamesmanship tactic. Stress among campmates generates another strategic tactic known as gossiping about the others.

5. Physical Stress

The entire jungle experiences are imbued with physically grueling tasks not normally experienced in their daily lives back in UK or USA. There is a duty of care towards all campmates and this has to be balanced out within the context of the reality show. Physical stressors such as food deprivation also alter their psychological functioning such as motivation and irritability besides frustration and increased awareness of their isolation from family back at home.

The campmates have been carefully selected, and evaluated by the show’s psychologists and psychiatrists to assess their psychological fitness to endure three weeks of stress and endurance. If a campmate views another campmate as more attractive, then he or she will see that other person as a possible alliance. Stress produces dominance in some individual campmates and so we see a shift in the parameters of the game. To combat the stress some campmates will form alliances rather spontaneously, becoming a predominant and extremely important gamesmanship tactic. Stress among campmates generates another strategic tactic known as gossiping about the others.

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