Today’s prescription: two doses of OK! and a shot of Us Weekly.
“Based on the discussion of participants, we observed that it is possible for celebrities to serve as surrogate interpersonal contacts for people,” said Amanda Hinnant, co-writer of the study. “Therefore, it would be less likely for a consumer of celebrity media to check with a friend or family member before changing a health behavior based on a mass-mediated message. The presence of a celebrity in a health story could serve as that interpersonal contact for the reader.”
In sum, if you’re feeling down or in need of a change, reading about a celebrity in a similar predicament could be all the incentive you need to turn your life around. In fact, Hinnant asserts, celebrities play a critical role in bringing important health issues into the limelight. (Somewhere out there, Oprah is extra pleased with herself.)
Study participants were also shown to display an above-average level of empathy, taking a celebrity’s life circumstances and background into account before judging his or her behavior. The impact was shown to increase dramatically if the reader had previously gone through a similar experience—for instance, a recovering addict reading about celebrity addiction.
Unfortunately, researchers at the Onion have found that while this remains true in the human world, dolphins still don’t care about Lindsay Lohan.