Parasocial relationships and self-discrepancies: Faux relationships have benefits for low self-esteem individuals

Authors


  • Jaye L. Derrick and Shira Gabriel, Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, State University of New York; Brooke Tippin, Detroit, Michigan.

  • We thank Sandra L. Murray for her helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article and a team of research assistants for their assistance in conducting this research.

Jaye L. Derrick, University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Psychology Department, Park Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260-4110, e-mail: jderrick@buffalo.edu.

Abstract

The current research proposes that low self-esteem people can use parasocial relationships to experience movement toward the ideal self, a benefit they may miss in real relationships. In Study 1, low self-esteem undergraduate psychology students at a public university in the United States felt closest to celebrities who were similar to their ideal self. In Study 2, low self-esteem college students primed with their favorite celebrity became more similar to their ideal selves. In Study 3, low self-esteem college students primed with their favorite celebrity, but not a close relationship partner, became more similar to their ideal selves. Results are discussed in terms of the implications for parasocial relationships, self-esteem, and the flexibility of the need to belong.

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