Flashcards in Parasocial relationships Deck (32):
What is a parasocial relationship?
One-sided relationships occurring with media personalities outside of an individual's real social network. Known as "hero worship"
In what ways are parasocial relationships similar to physical interpersonal relationships?
They are voluntary, have a personal focus, provide companionship and are preceded by attraction
What are the three individual differences that affect parasocial relationships?
- Age: These relationships occur in all age groups, but peak between 11 and 17, then decline slowly
- Education: The less education, the greater the level of attraction to media personalities
- Gender: There are differences in the type of personality an individual is attracted to; males usually being attracted to sports stars and females generally being more interested in the entertainment world
How were parasocial relationships originally viewed?
As abnormal, originating from neuroticism, isolation, loneliness, fear and a lack of social interactions. This meant they were essentially a substitute for inadequate relationships
How have parasocial relationships come to be viewed more recently?
As helping people, especially young people, with identity formation through observation and imitation of positive role models. These relationships may even be associated with mood states, as research suggests interacting with a media personality is associated with a positive mood
What does Turner find parasocial relationships have in common with physical relationships?
Parasocial relationships tend to form with people who have similar attitudes with the individual
What did McCutcheon find?
There is a negative correlation between amount of education and celebrity worship. This suggests that the lower the education, the more intense the worship of the personality
Why might younger people have more parasocial relationships?
Many of their social interactions are conducted virtually anyway, making the two types of relationships more similar and normalised
How can research into parasocial relationships be criticised?
- Largely uses correlational data which do not show causal relationships
- Mostly conducted by questionnaires which could be subject to social desirability effects and therefore lowered validity
What are the practical implications of research into parasocial relationships?
Using media training in schools to highlight the dangers of idolising media personalities, such as eating disorders due to extreme dieting to achieve the body images presented by some media personalities
What may happen as parasocial relationships grow stronger?
- Individuals may immerse themselves in increased media presentations to "maintain" the relationship
- This consumption can become ritualistic in nature, such as viewing at certain times of the day for a certain amount of time
- Individuals may even try to intensify the relationship by attempting to communicate through fan mail or purchasing memorabilia and products associated with the personality
- They may also move increasingly out of touch with their real world relationships and further into their imagined world involving their parasocial relationship
Who developed the Celebrity Attitude Scale and what does it measure?
McCutcheon; measures items within three levels of parasocial relationships
What are the three levels of parasocial relationships as suggested by McCutcheon?
1. Entertainment-social sub-scale: Measures social aspects of parasocial relationships, like discussing media personalities with friends
2. Intense-personal sub-scale: Measures strength of feelings and levels of obsession with media personalities
3. Borderline-pathological sub-scale: Measures levels of uncontrollable feelings and behaviour about media personalities
What did Giles and Maltby find in teenagers regarding the entertainment-social sub-scale?
High levels of emotional autonomy were accurate predictors for parasocial relationships (high attachment to peers, low attachment to parents)
What did Maltby find in those scoring highly on the intense-personal sub-scale?
These individuals had a rigid cognition, so were unable to adapt or deal with difficult situations, so they turned to parasocial relationships due to a lack of other options. In young people, an intense love of a single celebrity resulted in difficulties transitioning to emotional autonomy
Why is McCutcheon's Celebrity Attitude Scale an improvement on previous research?
It is an amalgamation of many other scales of parasocial relationships, such as Wann's Sports Fan Motivation Scale
What positive evaluation can be made from McCutcheon's research combining two approaches, and what are these two approaches?
It is holistic
The psychodynamic and cognitive approaches
What is the absorption-addiction model?
Most individuals know that their degree of admiration for a media personality is because of their entertainment/skill level and this degree of admiration will progress no further. However, due to the dissatisfaction felt in their own lives, some individuals may seek a more intense parasocial relationship in order to fill that dissatisfaction
Explain the absorption and addiction elements of the model specifically
Absorption: Due to the dissatisfaction felt in their own lives, some individuals may seek a more intense parasocial relationship in order to fill that dissatisfaction. For example, an individual who feels they are a low achiever may become fanatical about a media personality who is perceived as successful in the hope of absorbing some of that success
Addiction: In extreme cases, involvement in a parasocial relationship becomes addictive and an individual's behaviour may become extreme, bordering on abnormal, and may even involve criminal behaviour. This might be in the form of celebrity stalking, an obsessive-addictive disorder where individuals may develop an illusion that they genuinely are in an intimate relationship with the media personality
How do Giles and Maltby explain the progress through each level of parasocial relationships?
1. Entertainment-social: Individuals are attracted to media personalities because they are interesting.
2. Intense-personal: Individuals feel a connection with the media personality, for example feeling they are "soul mates".
3. Borderline-pathological: Individuals in this category have uncontrollable behaviours and obsessive fantasies about their media personality which are completely divorced from reality and prevent them from living a normal life.
What did Meloy find?
Stalkers tend to have a history of failed sexual relationships and tend not to be in a relationship at the time of the stalking. Stalking appears to be a response to social and sexual incompetence
What did Malby find?
Individuals in the entertainment-social category were mentally healthy. This makes sense as the majority of teenagers go on to be healthy. However, those in higher categories had poor mental and physical health
What questions does the absorption-addiction model leave unanswered?
How does celebrity worship develop in children?
How does an intense-personal worshipper turn into a homicidal-killer?
What role do celebrities play in children's development?
What practical applications does research into the absorption-addiction model have?
- Research into stalking may result in a better understanding of the behaviour and consequently better treatment
- Legal interventions like trespassing orders being questioned, because these are the most effective way of dealing with celebrity stalkers, but actually make stalkers even more obsessive and malicious towards their targets
What is the attachment theory of parasocial relationships?
Those with insecure-resistant attachments are most likely to form parasocial relationships because such individuals have a need for close emotional relationships, but only relationships in which there is a reduced risk of rejection. This makes parasocial relationships ideal, because while the individual can feel they have an intimate bond, the celebrity is not aware of the relationship and so cannot reject them
Why don't the other attachment types develop parasocial relationships?
People with secure attachments have no need for parasocial relationships because they are able to develop two-way, face-to-face relationships, and insecure-avoidant attachment types have difficulties trusting, so don't indulge in behaviours that create intimacy and so are less likely to foster close emotional ties in either face-to-face or parasocial relationships
What did Keinlen find?
63% of stalkers experienced an early loss of a primary caregiver, usually due to parental separation while more than 50% reported physical, mental or sexual abuse as a child
What did Cole and Leets find?
Adolescents with insecure-resistant attachments were more likely to have parasocial relationships with television personalities than those with secure or avoidant styles
What suggests that the attachment explanation is false?
There is a variation in attachment styles across significant relationships. If this also applies to parasocial relationships it would mean the attachment explanation is incorrect
What does Stever propose?
The existence of another infant-carer attachment; parasocial. These attachments are often formed by adolescents to media personalities to allow for the safe exploration of romantic feelings with a partner who will place no demands on them
What aspect of infant-carer attachment is also seen in adults? Explain how this makes the attachment explanation stronger
Individuals are seen to look to attachment figures as a "safe base" and this can be seen with parasocial relationships as well. Examples include where individuals have experienced the loss of a loved one and found comfort in parasocial relationships, for instance with singers who "speak to them" through their lyrics
This would suggest that the attachment explanation is correct in assuming parasocial to be an attachment type because it shares characteristics with the other three