Date of Completion

2015

Document Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Department of Psychological Science

Type of Thesis

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Dr. Keith Burt

Keywords

psychology, social anxiety, attachment styles, loneliness, mass media

Abstract

Parasocial interactions are one-sided relationships formed between a media spectator and a media figure. The current study examined the association of this phenomenon with loneliness, social anxiety, and attachment style, hypothesizing positive associations between self-reported parasocial interactions and loneliness, social anxiety, and anxious attachment style. The study also investigated whether these associations are moderated by co-viewing habits (how often someone views and discusses the object of their parasocial interactions and what platform they use to discuss), category of media figure (actor, musician, fictional character, etc.), and romantic relationship status (including cohabitation and length of relationship). N = 307 participants (41.2% female, 22.8% ethnic minority, ages 19-73) provided data via Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), a crowdsourcing website. Results suggested negative zero-order associations between strength of parasocial interactions and both loneliness and social anxiety as well as a positive partial correlation between strength of parasocial interactions and anxious attachment when other outcome variables were controlled. Significant moderators included cohabitation in a relationship and discussing one's chosen character with others. These results suggest that engaging in parasocial interactions might alleviate distress caused by social deprivation, though further research is needed to clarify directionality. The results are consistent with a complex interplay between how one engages in and balances social and parasocial interactions.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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