A recent study co-authored by an economist at the Queen Mary University of London reveals that people who always watch light entertainment TV, including soap operas are more prone to voting for populist politicians.

The Surprising Connection

For more than three decades in Italy, the authors examined the political effect of light entertainment. This started when Silvio Berlusconi introduced Mediaset, which is a commercial TV network. The researchers tried to link the voting practices of individuals who resided in areas where Mediaset was broadcasted compared to those regions where it was not available.

The network only displayed light entertainment before 1985. The researchers discovered that residents who had access to the network had an average vote of one percent more for Forza, which is Berlusconi’s Italian party. They compared this to the places that eventually had access to it when it expanded.

The Alarming Effect

The results of the study exposed the impact that lasted for more than five elections in twenty years. The alarming part about this is that young and older people are more likely to get affected, but it affected them in varied ways.

Dr. Andrea Tesei, the author of the study from QMUL’s School of Economic and Finance, explains that their findings imply that people who were exposed to entertainment TV when they were skill kids are less socio-politically engaged and less cognitively sophisticated when they become adults. This means that they will be more defenseless when it comes to the populist rhetoric of Berlusconi.

On the other hand, older adults were instantly obsessed with the new form of entertainment later exposed them to unfair news content on similar channels. Thus, proving that entertainment TV discourages the full mental potential and the rational decision making process of individuals.

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