Parasocial Relationships 1
Twitter and Parasocial Relationships
How the Level of Interaction between Celebrities and their Fans on Twitter affect the Parasocial Relationship between the Two Lauren Seger
The Ohio State University
Parasocial Relationship 2
Parasocial Relationships have been studied and theorized as a part of society since television was introduced in the late 1920’s. After reading multiple articles on Parasocial Interaction, we became interested in how Parasocial Interaction would be affected by social media websites such as twitter. Parasocial Interaction (PSI) is an illusion of a face-to-face relationship with celebrities and performers as a result of mass media usage (Horton&Wohl, 1956,p. 215). In the study by Frederick, Lim, Clavio, and Walsh, they wanted to study why a fan would be motivated to follow an athlete on twitter. They studied this subject through an internet based survey using a PSI scale. Clavio and Kian’s findings state that fans use twitter to express Parasocial Interaction with athletes (2010, 489). We wanted to test PSI within the twitter world so this study was very resourceful in helping us to come up with the constructs for our project. Media users will often engage actively rather than passively in their relationships with media personas (Frederick, Lim, Clavio, &Walsh, 2012, p.483). We wanted to see why fans would actively engage with a performer on twitter, and if it is related to the celebrity’s twitter content and interaction with the fans that creates this desire to be an active participant. Lim, Clavio, and Kian found that fans have a heightened sense of closeness based on the interaction style of the athlete with their fans on twitter (Clavio&Kian, 2010). This helped form the Hypothesis that we believe that fans who follow a celebrity who interacts with their fans often on twitter will have a stronger Parasocial relationship with that celebrity. The research performed by Frederick, Lim, Clavio, and Walsh states that twitter appears to be a new forum for PSI that allows for the possibility that fans might become better known to the celebrities whom they
Parasocial Relationships 3
follow (Frederick,Lim,Clavio,&Walsh, 2012, p.496). So according to this, if the celebrity interacts often with the fan, as a result, the fan may feel he/she may know that celebrity in real life terms. This study examined the twitters of twelve celebrities in terms of PSI. They found that twitter does play a significant role in PSI which could ultimately effect the Parasocial Relationship (PSR). Twitter gives one the sense of actually “being there” with the celebrity (which goes along with our hypothesis that the level of celebrity interaction on twitter effects the PSR. There seems to be more research on PSI on twitter in terms of dealing with athletes and news reporters on twitter than on actual actors or performers. In response to that finding, we wanted to study performers and their interactions on twitter.
H1: An increase in the level of interaction between celebrities and their fans on twitter will result in an increase in the strength of the Parasocial Relationship between that celebrity and fan.
H2: Since Taylor Swift has less Parasocial Interaction with her fans than Blake Shelton, her fans will have a weaker Parasocial Relationship with her. Method
Participants for this study were undergraduate students at The Ohio State University. The other participants were acquired through them clicking on the link voluntarily. More than half of Parasocial Relationships 4
the sample (95%) was female and the majority were between the ages of 18 to 30. We chose one highly interactive performer (Blake Shelton) and one performer who interacted very little (Taylor Swift) to survey participants on. An online survey was administered using Qualtrics and the link was posted on Twitter and Facebook as well as...
References: Clavio, G & Kian, T.M. (2010). Uses and gratifications of a retired female athelete’s twitter followers, International Journal of Sport Communication, 3,485-500.
Horton, D., & Wohl, R.R (1956) Mass communication and para-social interaction, Psychiatry,19, 215-229.
Rubin, A.M., Perse, E.M., & Powell, R.A. (1985) Loneliness, parasocial interaction, and local television news viewing. Human Communication Research, 12, 155-180.
Frederick, E. L., Lim, C. H., Clavio, G., & Walsh, P. (2012). Why We Follow: An Examination of Parasocial Interaction and Fan Motivations for Following Athlete Archetypes on Twitter. International Journal of Sport Communication, 5, 4, 481-502.
Stever, G. S., & Lawson, K. (2013). Twitter as a way for celebrities to communicate with fans: implications for the study of parasocial interaction North American Journal of Psychology, 15, 2
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