Readers' reactions

August 10, 2001

Last month in The THES Peter Collett argues that Big Brother was more than a game show.

Big Brother is a phenomenal media event deserving our scholarly attention, and perhaps it does present unique research opportunities for the psychologists who take part.

In return, they give the producers a sense of scientific respectability that is most helpful to their claim for a genuine - that is, unstaged - spectacle, even though every item on display, including the participants, is for sale. What concerns me is that this show is neither a safe environment for its participants nor a sound learning experience for the public.

Of course, the participants are consenting adults, but is the prolonged exhibitionist saga not potentially damaging their mental health? And what is one to make of the put-down exchanges between Big Brother and the participants?

Collett et al believe that we, psychologists, are among the winners in this game. I am afraid this hypothesis is, like the show, false.

Yochanan Altman
Professor of international resources management, University of North London, and editor of the Journal of Managerial Psychology

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