Watching Reality TV Increases Your Empathy for Others

by Rachael Schultz

Want to put yourself in someone else’s shoes? Turn on the Kardashians! Researchers say watching reality TV can trigger feelings of empathy and compassion

When German researchers looked at brain images of people watching reality TV clips, they found that watching especially embarrassing scenes activated regions of the brain known for empathy, compassion, knowledge of cultural and social etiquette, and suppressing egocentricity.

In other words, watching famous people cry, laugh, or squirm in discomfort can actually activate the parts of your brain that make you a more conscientious and empathetic person. (What else is happening while you zone? Your Brain On: Binge Watching TV.)