The Psychology Behind Fame
Life Style Positive

The Psychology Behind Fame


To be noticed, to be loved, to grab the attention when you walk into a room, for people to understand and respect your opinion, this is all fame is all about. Craving attention and focus of others. Despite having many people in the room can be a motivating factor for a lot of people. “The visibility, status, and prosocial aspects of fame may come with the pressures of competition, status-obsession, and increased stress.” -American Psychological Association.

Fame, the most addictive, and dangerous drug of all!

Around us, we see many people who want to become famous and with the invention of social media, it is quite easy now to get attention from the public. One can observe even children craving for visibility on platforms like YouTube, showcasing their talents, making videos and coming upfront.

The need or desire to be famous can be very alluring. An individual may construct a differentiable thinking style, and their thoughts may revolve around getting famous. It is quite obvious that fame also brings monetary benefits which can be one of the factors why people crave fame so much, along with psychological benefits.

But for some who were either born, famous or got lucky, the cycle is usually the same. From loving the status, then hating it, adjusting with the flow and then adapting. Fame has more negative sides than positive ones, but people often ignore the negatives because the positives can be so captivating.

With growing fame, people usually experience isolation, mistrust, criticism, lack of privacy, and psychological problems as well, with some describing it as “ an animal in a cage”, “ a controlled doll” et cetera.

However, a famous individual faces numerous negative consequences of fame. Despite this, the appeal of wealth, access, preferential treatment, and public love keeps them hooked. One celebrity even described fame as membership in an exclusive club. This allure traps the famous person in a never-ending urge to keep their fame machine humming

Read More: My Child is a Star: Psychology of Kidfluencer Culture

Theory of Extrinsic Motivation

The word extrinsic here refers to external factors, where motivation is derived from external stimuli, like appreciation, approval, and even fame and money. The main aspect of extrinsic motivation is the reward, the external validation that people get, which is the main aspect Why people continue to do their work, even if they lose interest in it and fame works in the same way. Fame provides them external motivation as a form of reward to continue with whatever they are doing, even if it is making fun of yourself in front of the public, entertaining an audience, or even engaging in self-harming or dangerous acts just for publicity.

Self-Presentation Theory in the Media World

Self-presentation theory includes how people either influence or change themselves and their thinking patterns to gain the approval of others. It is how an individual adapts an alter, which is not the true self to gain appreciation, and attention. For fame, people generally change themselves into who they think the audience will like instead of showing their true selves, be it about their opinions, about how they carry themselves, and how they go about their day. Many people generally on online platforms change their demeanour to attract a larger audience as well.

According to Behaviour Psychologist Dr Syed Zafar S. Rizvi, To be famous is to have access to opportunities, wealth and power. It’s a kind of reward that is often a combination of the fruit of consistency with a specific talent or skill and lady luck smiling upon you, that is, being at the right place at the right time. The desire for fame may start as a pursuit of external gains and internal gratifications, but ultimately, fame becomes its motivator. Fame is a social phenomenon whose origin lies in public fascination and fantasy ideation. It will always have one common factor: adoration by a majority.

You can be from any field of work and area of expertise, fanaticism will always look the same. For professions with roots in arts and athleticism, or any other form of creative expression, fame is a need, or you fail. When it’s achieved, maintaining it requires as much effort as reaching it, if not more. Fame is an exaggeration of the commonplace desire for social acceptance that is a normative need. The famous person is the recipient of a wide spectrum of social and emotional phenomena such as acceptance, envy, jealousy and love etc. To be famous and wealthy means to understand those emotional states and be able to wield them to your benefit.

Read More: The Psychology Behind Celebrity Obsession

The Celebrity Worship Syndrome

We all have a celebrity that we like, be it about their ideas, the way they present themselves, or even their work. We may get influenced or motivated by their work to do something good for ourselves. But some, take a step further to the negative side. They become obsessed with a celebrity or a known figure, and they either try to copy what that person does or they develop This need to be in their presence. In the process where an individual tries to copy their favourite celebrity, they may indulge in dangerous acts which can be harmful to themselves, to others around them, and even to that particular celebrity just to either attract fame or to gain attention from that famous person.

Read More: Celebrity Worship Syndrome

Fame is one of the most strongest and influential motivating factors that can influence individuals to change their life completely. Fame also has two sides to its coin, the positive one which attracts people and thus the engagement activities that can help them achieve mass approval; and the negative one which can even lead to psychological problems like depression, and anxiety.

Many social scientists believe that the need to win social approval and become famous can be linked to how a person was brought up. If a child doesn’t get enough attention, faces neglect, is abused and ignored through the essential years, they can develop attention-seeking behaviour in their adolescence and adulthood. So, people need to understand that fame necessarily does not include being successful and being appreciated as it may seem. Instead, working hard on your interests and abilities would be a better route to a successful life.

According to Clinical Psychologist, Sushma Malik, “When you run after fame, you become quite insecure. You start worrying about maintaining that particular status and standard of living. There are several mental health problems associated with celebrity worship such as depression, anxiety, dissociation and body image concerns.

References +
  • Gillette, H. (2022, March 9). Fan or obsession? All about celebrity worship syndrome. Psych Central.
  • MSEd, K. C. (2022, October 22). What is extrinsic motivation? Verywell Mind.
  • Psychreg, & MacLennan, P. N. (2022, December 3). The Psychology of fame and celebrity: Why do people want to be famous?Psychreg.
  • Rockwell, D. (2023, April 7). The psychological mindset of being famous | Saybrook University. Unbound.
  • The School of Life. (2024, March 13). On the Desire for Fame – The School of Life.
  • The self Presentation Theory and how to present your Best self. (n.d.).

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