Social psychological explanations into attraction of celebrity: parasocial relationships

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Psychology unit 4 media revision
Social psychological explanations into attraction of celebrity
Parasocial relationships
Description
Parasocial relationships are one sided relationships where one person feels
strongly attached to the other person, who is typically unaware of the first
person. These are the types of relationships fan have with celebrities. The fan
knows lots about the celebrity and has a degree of emotional commitment to them
but the celebrity knows nothing about the fan. Parasocial relationships offer the
feeling of being in a real relationship but without the costs of a real relationship
such as arguments. It is thought that lonely people, adolescents and those with
type C attachments are most likely to have a parasocial relationship. Celebrities
are ideal for parasocial relationships as there is lots of information about then to
fuel the relationship.
Evaluation
Egal and Cohen- found that those with strong parasocial relationships to
characters of the TV show `friends' were most likely to be upset when they found
out that the series was ending. This supports the idea that parasocial relationships
are similar to the distress of a real relationship ending.
Thompson- found that the same factors found in a real relationship such as
autonomy, relatedness and competence were also present in parasocial
relationships showing that parasocial relationships are similar to real ones.
Giles and Maltby- did a study involving British teenager aged 11-16 and found
that those with a intense parasocial relationship with a celebrity had low levels of
security, little closeness to others and low attachment to parents. This supports
the idea that parasocial relationships are used as a escape from deficiencies in
peoples everyday lives.
Cohen used Israeli participants who completed questionnaires indicating how
they would feel if their favourite TV character was taken off air and their
reactions were similar to those who experienced an end to a real relationship. This
shows that parasocial relationships can be similar to real relationships.
Reductionist as it's not the only explanation for attraction of celebrity as there
are other theories such as social comparison theory. Therefore we can only get a
limited understanding from this theory into why people are attracted to
celebrities.

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Psychology unit 4 media revision
Explains individual differences as it gives different scenarios to why someone is
attracted to a celebrity such as being lonely, type c attachment and adolescent.…read more

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