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The allure of reality dating shows

Unveiling the psychology behind our obsession

Television viewers have a wide range of entertainment options, but there is one genre that seems to have captured our collective attention: reality dating shows. 

From The Bachelor to Love Island to Too Hot to Handle, these programs have become a cultural phenomenon, drawing in millions of viewers worldwide. What is it about these shows that keep us hooked? 

The psychology behind our interest 

We are social beings, wired to seek connection and companionship. These shows offer us a front row seat into the complexities of human relationships. We are naturally curious about other human relationships, so whether it’s watching contestants navigate budding romance, heated confrontation or heartfelt confessions, viewers are drawn to the emotions that unfold on screen. We see ourselves reflected in the contestants, their hopes and insecurities mirroring our own experiences in the dating world.

Reality dating shows also tap into our primal instinct for competition and sex. By pitting contestants against each other in the name of love, these shows are masterfully edited to create the utmost tension possible. Viewers then root for their favourite characters and this sense of competition keeps us on the edge of our seats.

What Dal students have to say

Marin Regan, a second-year engineering student, is drawn to these shows because of the background noise they offer. She calls them  “the ultimate tune out.” 

The escapist appeal is another factor driving the popularity of reality dating shows. The programs offer a break from the stress of everyday life and allow viewers to immerse themselves in the settings and lifestyles of the chaotic romances depicted on screen. The formulaic structures of these shows, with their predictable plots, offer a sense of familiarity to viewers. 

Laura Rezende, a second-year neurology student, likes this familiarity.

“Personally, I love the predictable nature of it because you are never watching reality TV for the cinematography. When you are in the mood for reality TV, it’s always the same, which I think is fabulous, says Rezende.

Some students said these shows perpetuate an unrealistic standard of behaviour. 

Darius Korin, a second-year marine biology student, is one of them. 

“Reality dating shows obviously don’t accurately represent modern dating culture,” says Korin.  

These shows are a dramatisation meant to garner the most attention, so it makes sense the antics on screen don’t resemble what dating is like in real life. It’s important to acknowledge the ethical considerations surrounding reality dating shows in terms of their portrayal of love and relationships.

While these shows undoubtedly offer entertainment value, we must approach them with a critical eye and an awareness of their potential effects on our perception of love and romance. As we continue to indulge in the guilty pleasure of reality dating shows, let’s also strive to cultivate healthier and more realistic attitudes towards love and relationships, on and off the screen.


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