Psychologists in trouble for 'Big Brother'

THe Show
Big Brother, the "social experiment" that mixes voyeurism with prime-time TV, is to come under scrutiny itself after a complaint that two psychologists on the hit programme have broken their ethical code.

THe Show Big Brother, the "social experiment" that mixes voyeurism with prime-time TV, is to come under scrutiny itself after a complaint that two psychologists on the hit programme have broken their ethical code.

The British Psychological Society confirmed yesterday that it is investigating allegations that two university professors are guilty of professional misconduct by involving themselves with the Channel 4 production.

The move follows a claim that Professor Peter Collett, of Oxford University, and Professor Geoffrey Beattie, of Manchester University, are legitimising the "exploitation" of the programme's contestants. An "investigatory committee" will now be set up by the society to decide whether there is any substance to the complaint.

Both academics appear on the show once a week to offer on-camera analysis of the behaviour of the 10 "captive" contestants in the show whose every movement is recorded by security cameras.

Professor Collett also acts as a consultant to the programme, providing general psychological guidance to the producers, Bazal. Neither of the two psychologists has any direct involvement with the competitors.

The 10-week series, which began last month, follows the daily life of five men and five women in a secure communal living space, with one contestant being evicted every week.

Viewers saw their first eviction on Friday as Sada Walkington, 27, lost her chance to win the £70,000 to be awarded to the last person left in the secret north London compound.

The programme has achieved large audiences, in excess of 5 million viewers on some nights, despite a panning from the critics.

But a formal letter of complaint from a Glasgow sociologist that the programme could ultimately damage its contestants is threatening to tarnish the show's carefully constructed appeal.

Dr David Miller, research director at the media research iunstitute at Stirling University, said: "What we are seeing night after night is a game show, not a serious attempt to explore human nature.

"What's more, the participants are themselves being placed under enormous stress that could lead to long-termdifficulties. These two professors are lending credibility toa crass and exploitative gimmick." Dr Miller said he believed the two academics had committed a "serious breach of ethical behaviour" and broken the code of conduct set out by the society in 1985. The society declined to comment on the details of the complaint but confirmed it would investigate.

During the run-up to last week's eviction vote by viewers and competitors, there was clear evidence of the stress on Sada and another participant, Caroline, after they were shortlisted to leave. Caroline was seen lying on her bed crying, while Sada vowed to leave in any event.

Professor Beattie expressed surprise at the complaint. "I'm astonished at the basis for the complaint," he said. "It's like saying it is a breach of ethics to interpret a politician's hand gestures. I have no direct contact with the participants."

Bazal Productions, the company making Big Brother, highlighted the safeguards built in to protect the participants.

A spokesman said: "Each of the contestants has been psychologically screened and they are fully aware of what Big Brother involves. There is a team of counsellors and a psychiatrist available at all times. We have set up a stringent safety net that many other programmes lack."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'
film
News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Dawkins: 'There’s a very interesting reason why a prince could not turn into a frog – it's statistically too improbable'
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Sport
Malky Mackay salutes the Cardiff fans after the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool on Sunday
footballFormer Cardiff boss accused of sending homophobic, racist and messages
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Amis: Taken to task over rash decisions and ill-judged statements
booksThe Zone of Interest just doesn't work, says James Runcie
Life and Style
life – it's not, says Rachel McKinnon
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Creative Content Executive (writer, social media, website)

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum + 25 days holiday and bonus: Clearwater People Solut...

Legal Recruitment Consultant

Highly Competitive Salary + Commission: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL BASED - DEALING ...

Digital Project Manager / Web Project Manager

£45-50k (DOE) + Bonus & Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced ...

Account Manager

£30 - 35k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager to join ...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home