A psychologist who has worked on The Bachelor and SAS Australia has described contestants as ‘hedonistic’ egotists, confirming the suspicions of every ‘skeptical mum’ who has ever been dragged onto a dating show.

Speaking on Gabrielle Scawthorn‘s Back From Reality podcast last month, psychologist Mark Mathieson described the qualities that people cast on reality TV possess. “There typically is a fairly strong element of hedonism,” he offered.

He also said that reality TV stars often have an inflated sense of “grandiosity”. “Defined, [it] basically means the capacity to think that you’re slightly better at everything than everybody else.” Ouch.

“So arrogance, if you want to call it that,” he continued. “Egotistical. You’ve got to want to see yourself on TV. If you desperately didn’t want to see yourself on TV, you probably wouldn’t go on a reality TV show.”

Mathieson also said that the best reality TV casts feature a “range of personalities”. “People are interested in the interactions to see how that loud, aggressive, bubbly person gets on with that quiet, withdrawn, shy person.”

Mathieson was a military psychologist with the Australian army, and now specialises in applying performance-focused psychological science to TV shows.

He’s worked as a consultant on shows like Survivor, Farmer Wants A Wife, I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!, Australia’s Got Talent and Love Island.

The website for Mark’s company, Psyched Up!, promises to support production companies to “deliver incredible stories, while balancing the health and wellbeing of crew and participants”.

Reality TV stars have long been vocal about suffering from poor mental health both during and after production, including MAFS contestants Tracey Jewel, Ines Basic, Liz Sobinoff and Tash Spencer.

Earlier this year, MAFS production company Endemol Shine reportedly hired “wellness managers” with a background in the mental health sector to offer contestants “care and support”.

During airing of Bachelor In Paradise, concerns were raised about the mental health of Jamie Doran, when he became distressed at the possible departure of Timm Hanly from Fiji.

Host and mental health advocate Osher Günsberg said at the time that contestants have the “robust” support of psychologists at all stages of production.

“The amount of mental health support before/during/after production for the people on this show is significant,” he wrote. “But you’ll never know who accessed it, who asked for it, and who continues with it because of privacy.”

But would any reality stars access those mental health services if they knew their doctors perceived them like this?