Why do people get Star Struck?

When fans meet celebrities whom they’ve long-admired, it is not uncommon to feel star struck: a feeling of excitement that prevents you from behaving as you would around others. Why do people get star struck?

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Meeting a celebrity can be exciting for several reasons:

1.) Excited from a feeling of Anticipation

After taking an interest in a celebrity for years, seeing them in the flesh means that years of imagining what they are like will finally become a reality. The exciting anticipation of “what will they be like?” can be quite a strong emotion.

Will they meet your expectations and imaginings? Are they very different in the flesh? The anticipation usually is a positive one because celebrities are often idealized, and this is why we consider them to be “bigger than life”.

2.) Pumped up from the effort of wanting to Impress

When you meet someone you admire, it’s likely you want to put your best foot forward, shine in your best light, and generally make a great impression on them. It puts a lot of pressure on the situation of meeting a celebrity if you’re stressing about impressing them. Just as trying hard not to think of a pink elephant usually results in thinking about nothing but pink elephants, trying hard not to act stupid around a celebrity can unfortunately lead to just this. In other words: star struck behaviour results.

3.) Excited from receiving attention you believe you don’t really deserve

Although celebrities are people just like everybody else, they are seen by some to be “better” than them, because the celebrity may be particularly good looking and/or successful. When you believe someone is much better than you, it is no wonder you’ll feel overwhelmed that they would even give you the time of day to acknolwedge you. Hence hysterical statements like “He looked right at me!!” from fans. The lower your self-esteem, the more excited you might feel when an important, famous, beautiful person is paying attention to you.

4.) Following the Crowd because being star struck is how “everyone” reacts

From watching movies, reading books and newspapers, attending concerts, premiers and other events where celebrities are present, we are exposed to the concept that it’s normal to see screaming fans jumping up and down excitedly at the sight of a celebrity. This wasn’t always the case.

Before Frank Sinatra became a celebrity, it wasn’t common at all to see screaming fans. In 1942, a publicity stunt was done to promote the 25-year old Sinatra, where they planted a number of girls in the audience who were told to scream and swoon when he stepped on stage. What began as a publicity stunt spread through the whole theatre to become a mass hysteria of screaming and fainting.

It’s in human nature to copy behaviour around us. This is seen in the famous experiment where you let a subject step into a lift where everyone is facing sideways, and so he also aligns himself sideways too, to match the other people around him, even if their behaviour does seem a bit odd!

It could be a similar effect in feeling that “everyone gets star struck and feels excited in the presence of celebrities, therefore I must get star struck”.

5.) Star struckness from overwhleming sexual tension

One thing most stars have in common is that they tend to be pretty good looking. In some cases, feeling star struck may actually be excitement from sexual tension if a celebrity is particularly attractive.

When some people find someone good looking, they may start to behave in a way that’s quite similar to being star-struck. Star struckness from sexual tension may arise for several reasons. It may be a manifestation of embarrassment about having had fantasies about the person who is now standing in front of you. It may be that every time you look at the that person, your thoughts go to places you can’t quite control and that makes you unable to think straight.

Related articles
See other articles in the psychology section including:
- Why do I get angry? And how do I deal with anger?
- Why do I have high or low social status?
- Feeling Down: Why do I feel bad?
- Why do we need a sense of belonging?
- Perfectionism: Why do I want to be perfect? and How to overcome perfectionism

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8 Responses to Why do people get Star Struck?

  1. Cee says:

    I wanted to thank you for this excellent read! I have you bookmarked your site to see the new stuff you post.

  2. kev says:

    Cool read :)

  3. Good insights on this topic. I especially liked the idea that people with low self esteem are especially drawn to celebrities, and you’re certainly right about that famous experiment which showed that people will pretty much “go along with the crowd”

    I recently did an episode on this exact topic for my podcast and I touched on your suggestions as well as making a few of my own (including the idea that we get star struck because..believe it or not…we’re afraid of dying). The episode is called, “Why Are We So Fascinated by Famous People?”: http://www.thepsychfiles.com/2010/08/episode-130-video-why-are-we-so-fascinated-by-famous-people/

  4. Samantha says:

    This is so true haha I WOULD feel embarrassed. But there’s another reason; the excitement of a rare moment. I liken it to seeing a comet.

  5. Ramond says:

    I’ve seen a few actors from a discrete distance and would never think to walk over to them or bother them in any way but I have to admit it’s interesting seeing a person you grew up watching on tv or in movies in the flesh and you realize that they are just people like any other Joe standing on the corner only you know their face well , yet they are strangers all the same. I can’t go so far as to say I idolize any one of them.

  6. Pingback: Blame it on the fame: The psychology of being ‘starstruck’ | drmarkgriffiths

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