The content of popular reality shows is now more aggressive as compared to equally popular dramas, comedies and soap operas, according to a new Brigham Young University study.
The researchers looked at five reality shows and five non-reality shows and found 52 acts of aggression per hour on reality TV compared to 33 per hour for the non-reality programs.
And none other that 'Apprentice' topped the list with 85 acts of verbal or relational aggression per hour, while Simon Cowell and 'American Idol' clocked 57 aggressive acts per hour.
"I knew the level of aggression was going to be high, but I had no idea it was going to be this high," said Sarah Coyne, a BYU professor of family life and lead author of the study.
The researchers analyzed 120 hours of programming and coded every instance of physical, verbal and relational aggression on the 10 shows they selected.
And despite the shows being 'reality shows', the aggression factor seemed to be provoked by the producers themselves.
"Of any type of program out there, I would think that reality programs are the most likely to be imitated," Coyne said. "All audiences think it won't affect them, but we aren't as immune as we think we are."
The study findings will appear in the June issue of The Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media.