Don't knock The X Factor, it's a force for good

With X Factor's Matt Cardle sitting atop the UK charts, and the show clearly TV's stand out programme of 2010, McCann Pulse reveals the 'X Factor attitude' that characterises its legion of viewers.

Love him or hate him, Cowell's X Factor can have a positive impact
Love him or hate him, Cowell's X Factor can have a positive impact

Few television shows, if any, have ever created as many column inches as ITV’s The X Factor, both in the entertainment and opinion sections.

Whilst its supporters praise the democratic, meritocratic nature of the show, its critics deride what they view as exploitative, televised karaoke that cheapens music for the gain of Simon Cowell.

Until now, most analysis has merely been of the show itself. But what about the legions of viewers? McCann Pulse’s data shows that, socially-speaking, X Factor is a fairly democratic institution, cutting across social grades and age groups.

However, if we delve into the broader feelings about life revealed in our data, a distinctive ‘X Factor attitude’ emerges…

The X Factor person

We’ve just had the coldest November in living memory. Swingeing cuts are set to bite in the New Year. VAT is going up and William, David and David couldn’t bring the World Cup home for 2018. It’s miserable out there. However...

Our research reveals that, in contrast to the rather vocal X Factor refuseniks, the show’s viewers are 29% more likely to agree that their current mood is positive. But why? And what makes the X Factor person distinct?

X Factor people are more involved in their community, being almost 20% more likely to agree that they know their neighbours well.

Their greater involvement with people outside friends and family gives them a more inherent sense of trust, being 35% more likely to agree that they trust ‘people on the street’.

X Factor viewers are also nearly twice as likely to agree that the mood of their local community is positive.

At a time when David Cameron is seeking promoters of his ‘Big Society’ plan, perhaps he need look no further than the humble X Factor viewer!

Being more involved with their local community is just one signifier of viewers’ inclination to think beyond their four walls.

When asked which things are having an influence on how they feel about Britain, non-viewers are 40% more likely to mention ‘issues in my personal life’, while X Factor viewers are 32% more likely to list ‘the atmosphere on the streets of Britain’.

Viewers of the X Factor clearly display a lesser tendency towards insularity - their viewing of and participation in the show highlights their wider inclination towards being part of a movement; a shared experience of which they can feel a part.

This desire is also reflected in their far higher levels of positivity about the 2012 London Olympics, being 48% more likely to agree that they are excited that the games will be coming to London in under two years’ time.  

Viewers of the X Factor also have a definite sense of feeling lucky, with a far greater tendency to agree that they value things more as a result of the recession.

They are 22% more likely to value their home more, 23% more likely to value their friends and family more and 33% more likely to value their job more.

At a time when the media is awash with pessimism, X Factor viewers are more optimistic and hopeful about the future…

If we can count X-Factor viewers among the most positive and community-minded people in the country, then who are we to kick Mr.Cowell’s much-bashed brainchild?

Pulse @ McCann London - Follow Pulse at


You have

[DAYS_LEFT] Days left

of your free trial

Subscribe now

Become a member of Campaign

Get the very latest news and insight from Campaign with unrestricted access to , plus get exclusive discounts to Campaign events

Become a member

Looking for a new job?

Get the latest creative jobs in advertising, media, marketing and digital delivered directly to your inbox each day.

Create an Alert Now