The Spotlight Effect in Entertainment




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Author: LynJoy Robinson


The Spot Light Effect in Entertainment

The Spotlight Effect is the tendency for one to have a self-conscious approach to situations, essentially overestimating how intensely one’s actions and/or appearance are scrutinized by others. A recent video clip published online featured the Kardashian-Jenner clan on vacation in Costa Rica. The video was tagged Kourtney Kardashian brings her beautifying team on vacation. The video featured Kourtney Kardashian sitting down getting her makeup done, by a member of her beauty team, while she made a snapchat video for her fans to see. (Anthony, 2017)

The Kardashian girls jump through hoops to ensure their appearance is always on point, both in person and on their social media pages. They typically do not like being photographed without their makeup and hair done. But do people really care about how these ladies look? Are the Kardashians making a big fuss out of something insignificant? I believe the answers to these questions are Yes!  Based on how these ladies think they should look, they are evidently experiencing the Spotlight Effect.

A peer reviewed article, The Spotlight Effect in Social Judgement, written by Thomas Gilovich (2000) eloquently explains this concept.  The article draws the conclusion that people typically “overestimate the extent to which their actions and appearance are noted by others (Gilovich, Medvec, Savitsky., 2000, p. 1).” The researchers conducted a three-part study. The participants were asked to wear t-shirts that had either a flattering image, or an embarrassing image. The participants wearing these t-shirts overestimated the amount of observers that would be able to recall the words/ images on their shirt. In another study, participants were placed in a group discussion, where they again overestimated the extent to which their exchange of words were remembered by their fellow group members.

The research concluded that the Spotlight Effect is very present in everyday life. The assessment of one’s self sparks the perception that one’s actions are ‘under the microscope’ of others. People “typically end up overestimating their own prominence in the eyes of others” (Gilovich, et al., 2000, p. 9).

As humans, we are all guilty of over assessing our own behaviors and actions, even when we don’t realize it. The article and video cited earlier gave a pronounced example of the Spotlight Effect. The Kardashian-Jenner ladies payed presumably thousands of dollars for a beauty team to follow them all the way throughout Costa Rica, just so they could look their absolute best while on vacation to maintain the image they thought was necessary. They believe the world is scrutinizing their imperfections. But the reality is, no one seem to care as much as they think. People are largely caught up with more concerning issues happening in the world.












Anthony, R. (2017). Kourtney Kardashian Strips Naked For A Sexual Skinny-Dipping Picture.

Elite Daily. Retrieved from

Anthony, R. (2017). Kourtney Kardashian brings her beautifying team on vacation. Elite Daily.

Retrieved from

Gilovich, T., Medvec, V. H., & Savitsky, K. (2000). The spotlight effect in social judgment: An

egocentric bias in estimates of the salience of one’s own actions and appearance. Journal Of Personality And Social Psychology, 78(2), 211-222. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.78.2.211

Myers, David G. (2012). Exploring Social Psychology. New York: McGraw- Hill.

2 thoughts on “The Spotlight Effect in Entertainment”

  1. I thought this blog post was very interesting, informing and also well written. The Kardashians play a huge role in society today, all of them either coming out with TV shows, clothing or even Kylie’s lip kit line. They are in the public eye all the time, so I totally see the spotlight effect. They also have to look their best for the cameras and their social media accounts, I don’t think there was an episode or picture I have seen without them having their hair or makeup done. I also think that self-serving bias can play a role in the Kardashian world. They all are very favorable in themselves and their actions, they are always praising themselves for the things that they are coming out with. For example with Kylie, her lip kit line is huge and she is a huge gloater about it. Posting about it all over snapchat and any social media for that matter. You don’t really see any posts coming for her praising her sisters in their actions at all. As for Kim, she is also so into her marriage with Kanye and her kids, you never see her praising her sisters for any of their accomplishments, she is all worried about herself. And for Khloe she also gloats about her weight loss (having a show now as well about this) and also trying to prove her “haters” wrong. They don’t take the time to praise each other for the accomplishments that they all have for one another. I personally feel that they all have self-serving bias playing a role in all their daily lives. With social media and their shows it is easy to tell.

  2. LynJoy, I liked this article very much. I believe that you touched on a big subjects because people in this world are always worried about the way someone else is perceiving them. Using the Kardashian’s was a good example. They flew their makeup team with them to Costa Rica, but if they are on vacation who is really going to see them? In reality, I believe that it is how you perceive that people with perceive you that is the real issue. Everyone does not attract as much attention as they believe they do. O.W.

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