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Celebrity Obsession Linked to Lower Intelligence, Nerds Say

Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photos: Getty Images

A recent study from a group of Hungarian academics claims that people who are more obsessed with celebrities tend to score lower on cognitive tests. In other words, a recent study is calling me stupid?

The study, published in November of last year but recently resurfaced by my favorite academic journal, the New York Post, had 1,763 adults in Hungary complete a couple of cognitive test. This included a 30-word vocabulary test as well as a “digit symbol substitution test,” which is a series of words I don’t fully understand, so maybe the study is right. Then participants completed a “Celebrity Attitude Scale,” which asked participants to answer questions that would indicate their level of celebrity obsession.

Some questions were benign: “My friends and I like to discuss what my favorite celebrity has done.” Others were … concerning: “I have frequent thoughts about my celebrity, even when I don’t want to.” And some prompt further questions from me, personally: “If I were lucky enough to meet my favorite celebrity, and he/she asked me to do something illegal as a favor I would probably do it.” How illegal is this favor? Will the celebrity pay for my legal team, if need be? Also, what is the context in which they’re asking for a favor? Is Sandra Oh DM’ing me out of the blue to see if I have any connections in black-market organ harvesting? (I don’t, Sandra. I’m sorry.)

The study’s findings suggest there is “a direct association between celebrity worship and poorer performance on the cognitive tests,” even when other factors like socioeconomic status, demographics, and self-esteem are accounted for. (Yes, the study also measured participants’ self-esteem. Probably with questions like “Is it going to hurt your feelings if we call you dumb in an academic paper?”) These results, in the words of the study’s authors, showed a correlation that was “weak but consistent.”

Of course, the study doesn’t establish cause and effect, nor does it mean knowing the timeline of Kourtney and Travis’s relationship makes you a bona fide dummy. Per the study, “These results align with previous findings on addictive behaviors, which suggest that excessive behaviors can impair cognitive functioning due to the increased focus and energy invested in the behavior that dominates the person’s life.” So the results may have less to do with intelligence and more to do with a person’s difficulty dedicating attention to anything that doesn’t relate to their obsession of choice.

Also, would someone with lower intelligence be able to identify whom Kim Kardashian West is dating solely based on her changing style? Hmmm?

Celebrity Obsession Linked to Lower Intelligence, Nerds Say