Character Interactions Definition And Parasocial Relationship, What Does It Mean?: A media user engages in a one-way interaction with a media persona in a parasocial relationship.
It’s possible for media users to create parasocial relationships with celebrities (live-action and fictitious), social media influencers (Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok), and animated characters they encounter through media (such as movies, TV series and podcasts).
It is important to note that while most parasocial research focuses on positive parasocial connections, users might create negative or even romantic parasocial relationships with diverse media personas.
Character Interactions Definition And Parasocial Relationship, What Does It Mean?
Parasocial Relationships: A Brief History
In 1956, Donald Horton and R. Richard Wohl published “Mass Communication and Para-Social Interaction: Observations on Intimacy at a Distance” in Psychiatry.
Instead of extending beyond a single media encounter and functioning like a real-life relationship, parasocial interactions occur just while communicating with a persona via media and function like real-life face-to-face interactions.
Parasocial interactions occur when you feel like you’re part of the gang while watching Friends at the Central Perk. A parasocial relationship develops when a person continues to think about Rachel, Chandler, Monica, or one of the other Friends characters after an episode has ended.
How Do Parasocial Relationships Develop?
Parasocial interactions begin when a media user meets and comes to know a media figure. This relationships can develop from parasocial encounters if the persona leaves an impression on the media user.
Parasocial interactions can enhance parasocial bonds, leading to parasocial attachment.
A parasocial relationship can also terminate if the media figure dies, the show or movie they appear in stops, or the media user decides they no longer want to participate with the media persona.
Are Parasocial Relationships A Good Idea?
However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that humans are naturally predisposed to develop social ties. Instead, the social features we’ve evolved to ensure we build interpersonal interactions have been extended to media use.
Humans tend to focus on other humans’ looks and speech. For generations, the only faces and sounds we heard were those of our neighbors. With the emergence of radio and movies in the early twentieth century, the number of faces and sounds familiarized by media grew tremendously.
Our brains never developed to distinguish between persons we see and hear in media and real life. So we process and respond to these encounters similarly, leading to parasocial phenomena.
Parasocial Relationships’ Effects
Parasocial ties have been demonstrated to have a variety of effects on media consumers. Liebers and Schramm1 recently reviewed the literature.
a parasocial link with a media persona can influence a person’s political beliefs, voting decisions, purchasing decisions, opinions regarding gender stereotypes, and trust in various groups of people, such as scientists
This influence might be favorable or detrimental depending on the media figure’s parasocial relationship. Parasocial interactions can boost one’s self-esteem, self-efficacy, and sense of belonging, according to research.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic quarantine, media figures have become more interested in social surrogacy.
Does Social Media Affect Parasocial Relations?
Until now, most paranormal studies have centered on film and TV, with new media receiving less than a fifth of the attention.
Nonetheless, new media, particularly social media, have altered parasocial relationships. The capacity to immediately engage with and perhaps be reached by media figures online may make parasocial relationships more social. If a fan sends a favorite actor a direct message on Twitter, the relationship becomes social.
As a result, Stever proposes seeing parasocial and social relationships as a continuum. These are persons we regularly contact with in our daily life, while parasocial are media persona we cannot access, such as fictional characters or deceased entertainers.
Between those two extremes are celebrity relationships with whom one can interact in person or online.
If a fan responds to a performer’s tweet on Twitter, the performer may respond by like or retweeting the message. Scholars argue that despite the media figure’s social renown, the media user lacks direct access to them.
In any case, social media users’ parasocial ties with media figures might grow.