Every time some terrible act of violence takes over the news, we scramble for something to blame. Was it the media's steadfast dedication to that old adage, "If it bleeds, it leads"? Was it video games that are rated M for Mature? What about violent TV shows and movies? Surely watching enough depictions of shootings and stabbings will encourage an unstable person to grab a real-life weapon at some point, right?
As it turns out, we've been ignoring one of the most pervasive trends in recent history. It's not violent TV dramas we should be worried about, it's reality television shows like Real Housewives. A new study says that watching reality TV that includes lots of what's called "relational aggression" — bullying, exclusion, and manipulation, AKA Ratings Gold — can actually make viewers behave ... well, like assholes.