A psychologist watches Love Island

A few weeks ago we did a writing retreat for everyone on the masters programme in the School of Psychology. During one of the breaks, everyone was talking about Love Island. Somehow, they convinced me it was a subject worth study.

This isn’t unusual. Take Benefits Street, for example. That has all kind of implications, stereotypes and editing choices that provide a deep, rich dataset for social psychologists looking to elucidate and explain the way our society works (or does not work).

So, with Venla safely tucked up into bed, I headed over to ITV’s On Demand service and watched some.

I made it as far as the first “re-coupling” before I had to give up.

What is it?

If you haven’t seen it, here is a quick overview. The show’s producers have rented a giant villa. They then fill it with single people who they hope will have sex on television.

But it’s more than that. It’s a game show. They start by introducing five men and five women and couple them up. They then introduce a sixth man who has to “steal” one of the girls, and they become a couple. Each couple shares a double bed in the communal bedroom, and the person who is left over has to sleep by themselves.

They then introduce more sets of men and women in such a way that there is always a slight imbalance. At certain points, there is a “re-coupling” in which one gender has to select who to couple up with from the other gender, and the person who is left out is sent home.

At the end of the show, the public vote for the couple they like the most, who are given £50,000.

Why is it terrible?

At best, it is uninteresting. It is a bunch of shallow people doing nothing with their time but gossiping, moaning about relationships. drinking and playing ridiculous games.

At worst, it is far more ominous. They’re not shy about the tasteless nature of the show. In one of the organised games, for examples, the girls had to try and crush a watermelon with their bottom by bouncing up and down on it.

Yeah, it was a real thing that really happened:

Worse, though, are the ethical implications of the show.

If I went to the university ethics committee and said I wanted to make people pick who to couple up with, leaving one person purposely excluded, and then continued to strategically introduce other people to break up the existing relationships and make people cry on camera, I would quite rightly be burnt at the stake.

And at least I would be doing it in the name of science.

Because who would possibly subject their fellow human beings to that for the purposes of entertainment? It has been running for six series so it’s not like they can possibly be surprised when the poor people break down in tears.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 2nd, 2018 at 11:00 am and is filed under Distractions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.