Wednesday, 4 February 2009

The Social Psychology of Jade Goody's Health

So how do we rationalise our feelings given the sad news that Jade's illness has progressed? The cost of celebrity means that the private and the public become fused together, and you and I become fused to the celebrity. The cost to the celebrity is perpetual limelight regardless of the circumstances and the cost to us is perpetual involvement whether we ask for it or not.

We become 'involved' in a way that only interconnected media can achieve.

On the one hand many of us will have an image of Jade as a rather boorish, cocky young lady who shot her mouth off in careless ways. On the other hand we are confronted with the tragedy of a fellow human being facing a terrible illness.

Social Psychologists give this the name Cognitive Dissonance the unpleasant feeling we get when we try to reconcile two conflicting 'cognition's'. If you are familiar with Jade how do you feel right now?

Here's Anorak UKs take, and I have to say I wonder what role the media should play in this.

The Press Trust of India reports in a matter of fact way.

I suppose news like this causes us to think about the principals of life. Perhaps the realisation that regardless of the chase for material wealth and fame is folly because it doesn't make us immune to the vagaries of our basic biology.

The other effect Jade's story has on us relates to 'rules of thumb' or heuristics. One type of heuristic is called the Availability Heuristic What this does is make us feel that the more frequently we are aware of something such as Jade's story the more likely it can effect us. This skews our reality and increases personal concern and worry. Now, we can't complain if we've bought into Celebrity. We are gullible if we believe there aren't consequences for ourselves by participating in the Celebrity Circus.

Cognitive Dissonance and The Availibility Heuristic are the cost of the ticket to the show.

Jade's Story

Latest developments on dying in the limelight
Goody family supports OK! tribute

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