Alpha males, Stress and coping in this years I’m A celebrity,2018
In this week’s blog I want to discuss the subject of stress and coping in the Jungle. Over the past few days we have seen tension among the campmates as they began socially bonding to each other, especially to Anne. How fitting it was to see the noble Nick Knowles demonstrating altruism in giving his pillow to Anne in order to make her more comfortable. I was heartened to see the depth and breadth of understanding by all the campmates of Anne Hegerty’s Asperger’s syndrome, which Anne has had for many years, and especially the warmth shown by Fleur, Rita and Emily in facilitating her social acceptance and giving her the reassurance she needed after a few hours in the Jungle. Its claimed by the press and major broadcasters that Anne’s time in the jungle will be truly inspirational and motivational for all who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, encouraging them to lead very normal lives and participate within reason in an array of social events.This has the advantage in breaking down stereotypes and also has educational value besides.
Enter Mr. Emperor himself in the person of Noel Edmonds who saw it fit to demonstrate his new found status by asserting the strong dominant alpha male image. This sparked an emotional tsunami of complete outrage by John Barrowman, the Dr Who celebrity of old, and the American celeb who was already established as the camps alpha male with Harry Redknapp as the second in command. In last nights episode I was concerned about the ethics of what we social and clinical psychologists call deprivation.The campmates were only in the jungle camp for almost a week and were receiving precious care packages. This may have been seen as a socially constructive and wise gesture by ITVs producers, but there was an” inequality of distribution” in the care packages. The Vamps guitarist James McVey and Anne Hegerty from ITV’s The Case, besides Nick Knowles, managed to secure eight out of the eleven care packages for the camp. Most of the campmates burst into tears as they heard messages read out from their loved ones.
As reported in the Mirror recently for whom we acknowledge these photos,…Emperor Noel Edmonds and his Advisor Harry Redknapp had to decide who would get their package. Being Emperor meant Noel was guaranteed a parcel, while Harry offered to sacrifice himself and not have one. They decided that James and Nick would be the unlucky pair also not receiving news from home. Harry explained to Nick and James that he and Emperor Noel felt they were the strongest in camp and could cope without a care package.Both James and Nick were teary but understood why the decision was made. This was heart rending decision but we question the motives behind this intervention .It seems like a game of mixed motives where the ultimate decision was to ease the pain of separation from their loved ones, and at the same time, some were emotionally deprived and stressed out, but this is reality tv and often knows no bounds, however, producers do take care to ensure the social and psychological welfare of the campmates.The Mirror Online went on to report that “Inbetweeners star Emily Atack got teary when singer Fleur East read out a letter from her sister and then opened her package to find her favourite crisps. Soap actress Rita Simons read Malique Thompson-Dwyer’s letter from his Mum, who also got teary but perked up when he found he’d got his favourite chocolate. Anne was next and John Barrowman read a letter from her family and she was surprised to get her favourite crisps. Coronation Street’s Sair Khan started to cry before Rita had even had chance to read her letter from her boyfriend Simon. John’s letter from his husband Scott was read by Anne, while Emily read Fleur’s letter from her sister and she also started to cry. James read Rita’s letter from her daughters and her treat was chocolate.
Stress & Coping in the I’m A Celebrity camp
Psychologists have long been concerned both in the UK an across the pond in USA about the nature of stress and much more in light entertainment reality tv shows. It is these stressors, those stimuli that tax our psychological resources upset our emotions and social ties and bonding and drain us physically and mentally. But how do these “stressors” get under our skin to cause mayhem with our cognitive functions and self competence with our self worth? How do some campmates have tough emotional resilience, while others break very easily? The campmates have to endure not only separation anxiety away for three weeks from family and loved ones, but tropical rainstorms potential danger and all sorts of calamity. This is the point where we depend on our range of coping mechanisms, to help us focus and potentially become the King or Queen of the Jungle. But in many cases, these coping strategies are in very short supply or simply don’t exist among many individuals. Many of my academic researcher colleagues would like to study the effect of extreme stressors on the individuals cognitive and social function, but ethics prevent such a study under controlled laboratory conditions. However, as an advocate of reality television. It can and has been used very constructively for observational research by many universities. We can use it to observe measure and categorize a wide range of stress responses under day and night conditions and much more.
In university days we would have studied comparative psychology, or simply induce stress in monkeys by reorganizing their social groups, thjs would entail putting them into strange environments such as n the laboratory next door with new monkeys they had not met before. We would measure by observation their social gestures and “ body language”.. This was arduous for hem because they had to establish what we call “ Dominance hierarchies.” This is where we see the alpha male monkeys take control of their social environment. We would have observed the role of the submissive males. In similar ways in the I’m A Celebrity Jungle, the parameters of the gameshows shift from working as a team against another camp, to maintaining ones individual viability in a merged camp.
The psychological study of animals notably monkeys in repeated social upheavals produce stronger affiliative behaviours in their new groupings, early research by Cohen et al (1992) in comparison t monkeys in stable environments. Let’s apply this research finding to its many current millennial research which after several decades come to the same conclusion. Researchers have found that sitting closely together close physical proximity and passively touching, also grooming, serve to buffer stress of losing one’s sense of one’s place in the social group and ones familiars. In the camp. we see our celebrities responses to Noel Edmond’ on his grande arrival the dominant male could not resist to display dominance gestures.. but perhaps it was part playacting and maybe not as socially perceived by his male campmates John Barrowman and Harry Redknapp. Forming alliances is a normal feature of entering the jungle and making keen observations of other campmates personalities. We select those whom we feel will play a significant role in the various bushtucker trials and show games. It is also a predominant and extremely important gamesmanship tactic. The forming of alliances has nothing to do with a campmates ability in terms of the stated objectives of the show — outwitting, outplaying and outlasting the competition. It is social psychologically, more to do with social competence. Could it be that, in addition to the strategic advantage it confers, forming alliances is a normal response to the ongoing daily stress of the competition to be King or Queen of the Jungle? Watch very carefully this week’s episodes where those who are the most socially skilled players, and I expect Harry to spot them in milliseconds… may capitalize on this natural compulsion to affiliate.
Gossiping in the Jungle
In every series since the show began I have notice the strategic tactic of gossiping among campmates. Every night of last year’s I’m a Celebrity … and you will see it soon in this year’s show, is incessantly talking behind another campmates back. It works in that it develops the formation and strengthening of strategic alliances. The gossiping in itself acts like a social glue where stickability counts. Psychological research evidence informs us that gossiping helps us to form and develop trusting relationships. And solidify social bonding in the camp.
In addition to the radical change in environment, entering I’m A Celebrity.. no matter how large or small the fee, it is a gruelling three weeks of stress hunger loneliness and deprivation. Campmates I’m sure will have signed their legal paperwork and informed consent forms. Often they are relatively deprived of the basics of their physical subsistence, food, water and shelter. There are limits over which show producers may not go and that’s final. This triggers the brains motivational mechanism in the hypothalamus in the centre of the brain, and this will produce survival motives by improvisation to help them to achieve their goals. The food deprivation limited to beans and rice alters the brains chemistry and can cause irritability and anger outbursts. .It also increase the aggressive behaviours and impulsivity. The semi starvation also reduces the sex drive not that it matters in the jungle as far as we are aware.The focus on eating behaviour often will eclipse the need for sex among the campmates.in complete contrast to Love Island or Celebrity Dates… the sex drive in I’m A Celebrity is constrained by fatigue and increased attraction to the opposite sex in the Jungle with sexual displays of mini skirts toned bodies and bikinis in the Jungle waterfall.
In summary then, the psychological stressors are centred on gamesmanship rules and campmates have to make decisions whether they will act morally in terms of being a good competitor or cheating in the various challenges. It’s a matter of conformity and compliance to the camps overall goals. No time here for social loafing or not pulling ones weight.. Its about teamwork and altruism by putting oneself out for the benefit of another campmate. Some research shows that lying skilfully pays off. Any campmate, and many before have done this, have deceived campmates in various ways by using direct or indirect lying to serve their own end. WE can see this in psychological research in the social psychologists classic laboratory stud “The Prisoners Dilemma”.. In this scheme the situation is likened to two suspects in a crime being questioned separately by prosecutors. If either suspect confesses, the charges will be dropped against the confessor and the accomplice will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. If both confess, both will be prosecuted but offered early parole. If neither confesses, they will both be prosecuted for a lesser crime. It appears that in the jungle, a similar scenario or dilemma can occur when they interact with other campmates. If a campmate badmouths another campmate, or forms an alliance against another campmate, he might certainly gain. or lose, as viewers who vote will see the deception and he or she may be eliminated.
The Alpha dominant male
Men become more jealous of dominant males when their female partner is near ovulation, researchers at the University of Liverpool have found.
As we think of the social interaction rivalry and backstabbing in the jungle between campmates. see what the researches from the University of Liverpool have found. Perhaps the female campmates may be socially influencing the alpha males social behaviour without being aware of it.
Previous studies have found that women’s preferences for male physical appearance vary according to their fertility status. During ovulation women tend to find masculine looking men more attractive and prefer their voices and odour. During this fertile phase women are more likely to have an affair with a masculine-looking man, as their features are linked to high testosterone levels, demonstrating good genetic qualities that can be passed on to offspring.
New research at the University has found that men sense this preference shift in their female partners and find masculine men more threatening during their partner’s most fertile phase. Rob Burriss and Dr Anthony Little, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, also found that men only behave in this way if their female partner does not use oral contraception — and is therefore more fertile.
Images of male faces that were either high or low in dominant features, such as a strong jaw lines and thinner lips, were shown to male participants who provided ratings of dominance for each image. A dominant person was defined as someone who looked like they could ‘get what they wanted’. ( See my recent tweets on facial recognition units among the campmates)
Participants were asked to provide information on whether or not their female partner used oral contraception and the date of her current or previous menses. Male participants whose partners did not use oral contraception and were near ovulation rated masculine faces more dominant than those participants with partners who did use oral contraception and were not near ovulation.
Rob Burriss, from the University’s School of Biological Sciences, explains: “‘Groups of animals, such as chimpanzees, can live quite happily together, but when a female is ready to mate the two dominant males within the group become rivals and fight for her attention. Similarly in humans, rated dominance increases when the female is most fertile. What is interesting here is that male behaviour is determined by that of the females; men become more wary of masculine-looking men only when the females facial preferences begin to shift prior to ovulation.
“Face shape and structure are good indicators of dominance. Men with large eyes, rounded chin and full lips, are viewed as more feminine and are chosen as long-term partners. They are not, however, seen as dominant. During the female’s most fertile phase, she tends to prefer faces that indicate high testosterone levels, which indicate good genes; masculine faces reflect these qualities.”
Research findings are published and can be viewed at www.sciencedirect.com
Arthur Cassidy Ph.D
The Celebrity Doctor.