“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” TLC’s hit reality show about a
crass Georgia family with a child – that would be “Honey Boo Boo” – who competes
in beauty pageants, drew big ratings this season, and its family of
newly-minted reality stars continue to make headlines.
Sure, it’s junk TV. But why do we still watch?
Jay Brown, assistant professor of psychology at Texas
Wesleyan, says that the program, which drew nearly three million viewers in its
season finale, touches psychological impulses in our brain.
He says it can be explained by a psychological theory called
Cable TV and the Internet give the brain more
opportunities to compare ourselves to others, Brown says. Where we used to look
at only maybe our neighbors and co-workers, now, the possibilities are endless.
“This whole concept of social comparison – 50 years ago was
limited to those few people that you knew,” Brown says. “Today, however,
because of cable and the Internet, we now have access to millions of people to
compare ourselves to.”