Two scientists have monitored the behavior of fans of the sci-fi television series to discover if watching Star Trek can warp your mind.
After studying 250 fans aged seven to 69 who follow the adventures of the Starship Enterprise, the academics have concluded that fans can get addicted to the exploits of Captain Kirk and his crew.
Dr. Sandy Woolfson, principal lecturer in psychology at the University of Northumbria, said that on the whole the program had a beneficial effect on viewers, but that five to 10 per cent of Star Trek fans exhibited classic psychological symptoms of addiction.
The report, undertaken with Ian Inglis, a sociology lecturer, gives a warning of "cognitive distortions" and "addictive criteria" among fans.
"It features very prominently in their lives -- they eat, sleep and drink Star Trek, and have to be surrounded by photographs and models of the program," Dr. Woolfson said.
The study found that some fans became so wrapped up in the show that they exhibited withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and stress when deprived of the show.
"When they go away on holiday, they become irritable and unpleasant because they are not immersed in the Star Trek world," she said.
Dr. Woolfson said that the program's themes could explain why they became addicted to it. "People who are very shy tend to find the idea of a society where everybody is tolerated very appealing. It presents a world in which they would like to live."
In general, the fans tend to be well-educated, with jobs and families. "They're not weirdos in any way," said Dr. Woolfson. "In fact they tend to be better educated and more intelligent than average."
The study also found that Captain James T. Kirk's leadership qualities and Spock's logical analysis of problems had inspired many of a generation to boldly go into careers that emulated their heroes.
"Among professionals, we found that a lot of people who became headmasters and scientists said they were inspired by the 1960s series. We met one headmaster who said if it hadn't been for Star Trek, he wouldn't have gone into science."
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