Main content

The Olympics: Why We're Hardwired To Watch

Episode 8 of 8

Michael Blastland investigates the psychology of being a sports spectator. Even if you're not watching the Rio Games, you might be curious why so many do.

The series that looks at current events through the lens of psychology. Michael Blastland explores the quirky ways in which we humans think, behave and make decisions.

In this programme, the Zoo team are watching people, who are watching people, who are often as not going round in circles. And trying to work out what it is in the mind that makes that so compelling.

It's time for the Olympics, and we're investigating the psychology of being a sports spectator. Even if you're not watching the Rio Games, you might be curious why so many do.

Is it an animal impulse to display and enjoy watching physical skills? An instinct to compete, to tell stories? Are we drawn to the drama of the spectacle, the unknown result? Or is it a vicarious pleasure, imagining yourself at the starting block?

Michael Blastland is joined by resident Zoo psychologist Nick Chater, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School and roving reporter Timandra Harkness.

Guests this week include sports commentator Alison Mitchell, former sports reporter Lynne Truss, Daniel Glaser from King's College London, philosopher George Papineau, and motorsport presenter Gareth Jones.

Producer: Eve Streeter
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Tue 2 Aug 2016 15:30

Clip

Broadcast

Podcast