Author(s): Qing Tian, Cynthia A Hoffner
In this study, 174 respondents completed an online questionnaire measuring their responses to a liked, neutral, or disliked character from the ABC drama Lost. Specifically, they reported their perceived similarity, identification while viewing, and parasocial interaction with the character, as well as the extent to which they had tried to change aspects of themselves to be more like the character (“change/influence”). Across the whole sample, perceived similarity was a significant positive predictor of both identification and parasocial interaction, and identification was associated with higher levels of parasocial interaction. Parasocial interaction, but not identification, was a significant positive predictor of reported change/influence. When the three types of characters were examined separately, all four responses were higher for liked and neutral characters than for disliked characters, and parasocial interaction was higher for liked than for neutral characters. Interpretations of the findings, and implications for understanding viewers' involvement with media characters, are discussed.