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Last Updated: Thursday, 18 January 2007, 12:52 GMT
Anti-social work
Under pressure in the office
Events in the Celebrity Big Brother house have made headlines across the world, with talk of bullying and intimidation. It might seem a long way from the outside world, but the dynamics of the House have a ring of familiarity in many offices, says a psychologist.

Jade Goody is quickly becoming a household name the world over, but for the wrong reasons. Along with fellow Celebrity Big Brother housemates Danielle Lloyd and Jo O'Meara, she is being accused of verbally abusing Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty.

People prefer to stay out of it and take the moral high ground in the diary room
Psychologist Michael Guttridge
While allegations of racism are being investigated by Ofcom, the word that comes to mind for many is bullying.

Such behaviour is magnified in the house because it isn't real life and there is no authority figure - like a team leader - among the contestants to rein people in, say experts. But the roles they have adopted follow a classic pattern, which could be mirrored in your office.


Bullying all comes from fear, says social and business psychologist Michael Guttridge. This doesn't mean the bullies suffer from low self esteem, often they have narcissistic tendency. They simply do not want to be bullied themselves.

Danielle Lloyd
Lloyd is a former Miss UK
Both men and women bully, but in different ways. Men tend to bully around performance, whereas women make it more personal. In the house Shilpa's accent, appearance and cooking have all been criticised.

"If the men were doing the bullying they would have been more likely to use something like a fail task to get at someone," he says.

When people bully in a group they often take the role of good cop, bad cop. Danielle has often told Shilpa she doesn't want her to "feel uncomfortable" around her but has called her a "dog" behind her back.


In a group setting there is always pressure for someone to be a scapegoat, says Mr Guttridge. Often that person is the one who follows rules or is different in some way from the rest - Shilpa is both.

Shilpa Shetty
Shilpa is a big star in India
She has been criticised by Jade for following the rules and choosing fellow contestant Carole Malone for nomination when she and Cleo Rocos were punished by Big Brother. The Bollywood actress replied that she was just following rules.

The Indian star has also been left vulnerable because of the cultural difference between her and the three other women. Often she has been perceived as aloof because she hasn't engaged in those "watercooler moments" when others all talk about a particular incident.

This could explain why much of the criticism targeted at her has centred around her supposedly acting like a "princess" and "thinking she is better than everyone".


Those who sit back and watch the fireworks display classic bystander apathy.

Jo O'Meara
O'Meara sang with S Club 7
"It is a diffusion of responsibility," says Mr Guttridge. "Such apathy dissolves as soon as one person responds to a distressing situation, but no one has done that in the house."

Former Steps singer Ian Watkins was reduced to tears about the situation, admitting he had been bullied at school and was finding the situation in the house distressing.

"In this situation it seems people prefer to stay out of it and take the moral high ground in the diary room, when ethically it's not right to allow it to continue," says Mr Guttridge.

"That's why people get away with bullying, people are not strong enough to stand up to them, often for fear of being bullied themselves."

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