Describe and evaluate one or more explanations of parasocial relationships (16 marks)

Parasocial relationships are a one sided, unreciprocated relationship, usually with a celebrity, where a 'fan' spends a lot of emotional energy, commitment and time. However this can also be with really anyone who stands out in a community so genuine interaction could be difficult.

MaCutcheon et al developed the celebrity attitude scale where three levels of parasocial relationships described attitudes and behvaiours. Level 1 is the Entertainment social which is not so intense. Celebrities are discussed in social interactions and vieweds as sources of entertainment. The second level is intense-personal. This is an intermediate level which reflects a greater personal involvement in a parasocial relationship with a celebrity e.g. believing they are your 'soul mate'. Level 3 is borderline-pathological which features uncontrollable fantasies and extreme behaviours such as being willing to perform an illegal act in the name of a celebrity.

MacCutcheon thought a parasocial relationship could allow someone to 'escape from reality' if they have problems in their own lives such as a weak sense of self-identity. The absorbtion-addiction model has two components; absorbtion is where the person focuses entirely on the celebrity and is pre-occupied with their existence and identifies with them. The second part is addiction; the person needs to sustain their commitment to the celebrity by feeling a closer involvement with them. This could lead to delusional thoughts and behaviours such as believing the celebrity wants to reciprocate but someone e.g. a friend is stopping. 

A criticism of the absorbtion-addiction model is that it is a better description of parasocial relationships rather than it being an explanation. For example it explains well the characteristics of people who are abosrobed and addicted by a celebrity (borderline-pathological) but unlike attachment…

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