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Transcript of Media Psychology
psychology Computers & video games Persuasive effects Persuasiveness of TV advertising Attraction of celebrity Intense fandom Explanations for media influences on pro-social behaviour Exposure to prosocial behaviour A commonly reported statistic is the high prevalence of violent acts shown on television. In one content analysis, two thirds of the children's programmes sampled contained at least one act of violence (Kunkel et al).
But despite the moral panic over the antisocial content of popular television programmes, there is clear evidence of a comparable level of prosocial content as well. Greenberg analysed popular children's programmes in the US and found an equivalent number of prosocial and antisocial acts in any hour. Acquisition of prosocial behaviours & norms The major claim of social learning theory (Bandura) is that we learn by observation how to do things and when it is acceptable to do them. We may then imitate those behaviours, and the consequence of our behaviour will determine the likelihood of us repeating the behaviours.
Unlike the depiction of antisocial acts on television (e.g. murder and fighting) prosocial acts are more likely to represent established social norms rather than contrast with them. This also means that we are more likely to be rewarded for imitating prosocial acts than for antisocial acts. Developmental factors Research suggests that many of the skills that are synonymous with prosocial behaviour (e.g. perspective taking, empathy, moral reasoning) develop throughout childhood and into adolescence (Eisenberg).
Consequently, we might expect strong developmental differences in the degree to which children of different ages are influenced by the prosocial content they view on television (or in other media). This means that younger children may be less affected by prosocial portrayals in the media than older children. Parental mediation Although an increasing number of children watch TV on their own, for many the effect of television viewing is mediated by the presence of a parent (as co-viewer). The significance of parental mediation was recognised by the BBC with early children's programmes, such as Watch With Mother.
Austin argued that effective mediation involves the parent discussing the programme with the child, explaining any ambiguous or disturbing material and following up the concepts presented in the programme.
Parental mediation has been shown to enhance the learning effect of Sesame Street (Rice et al).
Rosenkoetter suggested that with parental mediation, children as young as 7 were able to understand even complex moral messages contained in adult sitcoms. Research studies of prosocial media Mares examined research published between 1966 and 1995 considering 4 main behavioural effects of prosocial television. Altruism Self control (e.g. sharing, offering help) (e.g. resistance to temptation, task persistence) Positive interaction (e.g. friendly interaction, peaceable conflict resolution) Anti-stereotyping (e.g. counter stereotypes of gender) Studies of the effects of television on altruistic behaviour typically involve explicit modelling of very specific behaviours. Sprafkin et al showed that young children who watched an episode of Lassie where a child rescued a dog were more likely to help puppies in distress than children who watched a neutral TV programme.
Mares concluded that children who saw prosocial content behaved more altruistically than those who viewed neutral or antisocial content. Mares found that when exposed to a TV model demonstrating self control, children subsequently showed higher levels of self control in their own behaviour.
Friedrich and Stein found that four year old children who watched Mister Rogers' Neighbourhood over four weeks subsequently showed more task persistence and obedience to the rules than those who watched aggressive cartoons (such as Batman) or neutral programmes over the same period. In the study by Frederick and Stein, observers watched the children at play, counting the number of aggressive acts, friendly behaviours, expressions of affection, etc.
Those who had watched the prosocial programme behaved more positively towards each other than those who had seen the neutral programme. A typical study was Johnston and Ettema, who conducted a large scale study involving several thousand 9-12 year old children. The children watched the television series Freestyle (a programme designed to reduce sex-role stereotypes), once a week for 13 weeks.
Overall, there were moderate positive effects in studies such as this, which featured counter-stereotypical themes, with children becoming less stereotyped or prejudiced in their attitudes or beliefs. Examples of prosocial behaviour Evaluation DVDs for babies Sesame Street Prosocial effects of other media Parental mediation Lack of generalisation The problem of mixed messages Valkenburg et al suggest that only some forms of parental mediation would be effective in enhancing the prosocial messages in television programmes.
They found that in "social co-viewing", parents and children might watch together but do not discuss the content.
This type of mediation, they argue, is largely ineffective as a means of modifying children's interpretation of television. Only in conditions of "instructive mediation", which involves discussion and explanation, can the parent be described as an effective mediator between TV and the child. The Mares study found that children are more likely to generalise after watching aggressive acts than after watching prosocial acts on television.
In other words, they may watch a specific violent act on television and then express their own aggressive behaviour in a totally different way.
Prosocial acts, on the other hand, tend to be imitated directly, with little evidence of generalisation to other forms of prosocial behaviour. Lovelace and Huston suggested that prosocial effects can be achieved by setting prosocial goals against antisocial ones in the same programme.
However, it seems that mixing prosocial & antisocial messages somehow reduces the effectiveness of the prosocial message. Mares & Woodards' meta analysis, for example, found that children who watched mixed messages behaved more aggressively than children who watched aggression only. The Walt Disney Corporation has produced a set of DVDs especially designed to be shown to babies. The Baby Einstein DVDs are marketed as a way of "inspiring new ways for parents and little ones to interact", yet recent research carried out by Zimmerman et al suggests that watching such DVDs can actually lead to poorer rather than better developmental outcomes.
In their study, babies who watched Baby Einstein DVDs for one hour a day scored lower than a control group who did not watch the DVDs on a scale designed to gauge language development.
Zimmerman et al suggest that one possible reason for these results is that parents who are worried about their child's language development may turn to these DVDs as a last resort.
Although these results are hotly contested by Walt Disney, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television at all for children under two because TV is associated with attention and behaviour problems in later life. First broadcast in 1969, Sesame Street was designed with delibrately prosocial aims in mind (e.g. increasing interracial harmony) and was particularly aimed at inner city children. However, research suggests that, counter to the programme's objectives, it was children from higher socioeconomic backgrounds who benefited the most, presumably because of parental mediation effects. Research focuses almost exclusively on the effects of TV; however, Mares and Woodard considered how other media could have important prosocial effects. Children's stories have traditionally carried prosocial messages (such as Snow White, who looked after the dwarves and triumphed over the bad stepmother). Young children are especially fond of reading such stories over and over again which reinforces the message (Mares).
For an increasing number of children, computer software and the Internet are an important form of entertainment, but not yet focused on prosocial content. Explanations for media influences on anti-social behaviour Observational learning Evaluation Evaluation Children observe the actions of media models and may later imitate these behaviours, especially when the child admires and identifies with the model. Television may also inform viewers of the positive and negative consequences of violent behaviour. Children can be expected to imitate violent behaviour that is successful in gaining the model's objectives.
The more "real" children perceive violent televised scenes to be, and the more they believe the characters are like them (identification), the more likely they will be to try out the behaviour they have learned.
Proponents of this explanation often point to the evidence from "natural experiments" as testimony to the link. For example, Philips examined crime statistics for the 10-day period following televised heavyweight boxing contests, and found a significant rise in the number of murders during that period. There was no such rise after televised SuperBowl contests. Bandura's research supports the view that children learn specific acts of aggression and also learn increased aggressiveness through imitating models, even when such models are not real- Bandura also found moderate levels of aggression when the model was a cartoon character.
However, such imitation is actually quite rare outside of Bandura-style studies using specially prepared videos. There have been anecdotal claims of copycat acts of violence but no real evidence for this. For example, the two boys who murdered James Bulger were said to be inspired by the video Child's Play, but Cumberbatch reports that no known link was ever found. Cognitive priming This refers to the activation of existing aggressive thoughts and feelings, and explains why children observe one kind of aggression on television and commit another kind of aggressive act afterwards.
Immediately after a violent programme, the viewer is primed to respond aggressively because a network of memories involving aggression is retrieved.
Frequent exposure to scenes of violence may lead children to store scripts for aggressive behaviour in their memories, and these may be recalled in a later situation if any aspect of the original situation (even a superficial one) is present. The importance of cognitive priming was demonstrated in a study by Josephson where hockey players were deliberately frustrated and then shown a violent or non-violent film where an actor held a walkie-talkie.
In a subsequent hockey game the boys behaved most aggressively if they had seen the violent film and the referee in their game held a walkie-talkie.
Presumably the walkie-talkie acted as a cue for aggression. Explanations of media influences on anti-social behaviour Desensitisation Evaluation This argument assumes that under normal conditions, anxiety about violence inhibits its use. Media violence, however, may stimulate aggressive behaviour by desensitising children to the effects of violence.
The more televised violence a child watches, the more acceptable aggressive behaviour becomes for that child. Frequent viewing of television violence may cause children to be less anxious about violence. Someone who becomes desensitised to violence may therefore perceive it as more normal, and be more likely to engage in violence themselves. Cumberbatch argues that people might get "used to" screen violence but that this does not mean a person will also get used to violence in the real world.
He claims that screen violence is more likely to make children "frightened" than "frightening". Lowered physiological arousal Evaluation Large scale studies of the desensitisation explanation have consistently found that there are stronger desensitisation effects for males than there are for females (Giles).
Huesmann and Moise report that boys who are heavy television watchers show lower than average physiological arousal in response to new scenes of violence. The arousal stimulated by viewing violence is unpleasant to it, and their emotional and physiological responses decline. As a result, they do not react in the same way to violent behaviour, and so are less inhibited in using it. It has also been claimed that watching violence leads to increased arousal and thus more aggression. The excitation-transfer model suggests that arousal creates a readiness to aggress if there are appropriate circumstances (Zillmann).
Futhermore some theorists (e.g. Feshbach and Singer) believe that watching violence has beneficial, cathartic effects- arousal allows one to release pent-up aggressive energies. Explanations of media influences on anti-social behaviour Justification Violent behaviours on television may provide a justification for a child's own violent behaviour, or they may provide moral guidelines concerning what is acceptable and what is unacceptable.
The ability to judge issues involving harm to others is primarily acquired through social transmission, including exposure to moral messages on television and in other media. The justification of violence in the media is, therefore, one of the ways in which children can infer standards of acceptable behaviour.
Children who behave aggressively may also watch violent television programmes to relieve their guilt and justify their own aggression.
When violence is justified or left unpunished on television, the viewer's guilt or concern about consequences is also reduced. The child then feels less inhibited about aggressing again. Viewing television violence may also produce attitude change and suggest that problems can be solved through aggressive behaviour. Evaluation Many TV programmes have mixed prosocial and antisocial messages, for example the 1980s TV series The A Team portrayed good guys behaving violently.
Liss and Reinhardt suggest that the negative effects of such programmes support the concept of justification.
The use of aggression by prosocial characters lends an aura of moral justification to their violence, with which children readily identify. The anti-effects lobby There is growing concern that the media are unreasonably the focus of blame for violent behaviour. The evidence, however, does not universally support the hypothesis that media violence leads to violent behaviour.
Belson, for example, interviewed over 1500 adolescent boys, and found that those who watched the least television when they were younger were the least aggressive in adolescence. However, boys who watched the most television were less aggressive (by about 50%) than boys who watched moderate amounts.
This suggests that the link between watching television and aggression is unpredictable. Evaluation Meta-analysis Methodological problems A natural experiment Gender bias A substantial number of laboratory and field experiments over the past half century have examined whether children exposed to violent behaviour on film or television behave more aggressively afterwards.
A meta-analysis of media violence research (Paik and Comstock) suggests that they do. They examined 217 studies were carried out between 1957 and 1990, with an age range from 3 to 70 years of age. They found a highly significant relationship between television violence and aggressive behaviour.
The greatest effect was evident in preschool children, and the effect for males was slightly higher than it was for females. Among the methodological problems with experimental studies such as Bandura's is the likelihood of demand characteristics.
For example, Noble quotes one four-year-old who, on her first visit to the laboratory was heard to whisper to her mother: "Look, mummy! There's the doll we have to hit!" (Noble).
Laboratory experiments such as Bandura's began to die out in the 1980s, largely because of ethical concerns about subjecting children to violent media content which might then encourage increased aggressive behaviour in the child. A study in St Helena, a British colony in the South Atlantic Ocean which received TV for the first time in 1995, contradicts many of our expectations about TV's harmful effects (Charlton et al).
Despite expectations that the introduction of TV would produce an increase in antisocial behaviour, the researchers concluded that very little changed following television's arrival. The vast majority of the measures used to assess prosocial and antisocial behaviour showed no differences in either behavioural type after the introduction of television.
Those measures that did show a difference were fairly equally split between positive and negative changes. Five of these showed decreases in prosocial behaviour in boys and girls, but two showed increases (boys only). There were only two significant changes in antisocial behaviour scores- both of which were lower after the introduction of TV. Research into media effects may demonstrate a pronounced gender bias in several ways (Boyle), including the following:
Effects research has primarily focused on acts of male-on-male physical violence, frequently viewed within the artificial setting of the psychology laboratory. There is also no conception of how this focus on on-screen violence may affect male and female viewers' responses to the characters and situations depicted.
Effects research has frequently used unrepresentative samples (e.g. male students) and then made generalisations about all viewers. The inherent gender bias in these studies is often hidden behind gender-neutral terms such as "college students" or "viewers" when describing the population from which the sample is drawn. Negative effects of video games Experimental studies Longitudinal studies Meta-analyses Research evidence Why might there be an effect? Lab experiments have found short term increases in levels of physiological arousal, hostile feelings and aggressive behaviour following violent game play compared to non-violent game play (Gentile and Stone).
Aggressive behaviour cannot be studied directly, as this is not permitted on ethical grounds, therefore other forms of behaviour must be used instead.
For example, participants blasted their opponents with white noise (a random, multi-frequency sound) for longer and rated themselves higher on the State Hostility Scale after playing a violent first person shooter game compared to those who played a slow-placed puzzle game (Anderson and Dill). Anderson et al surveyed 430 7-9 year old children at 2 points during the school year. Children who had high exposure to violent video games became more verbally and physically aggressive and less prosocial (as rated by themselves, their peers and their teachers). Several meta-analyses have found a consistent link between violent game play and aggressive behaviour. This association appears to hold for children and adults (Gentile and Anderson).
It might be expected that there would be larger effects with newer studies as violent video games have become more violent over time. In the Gentile and Anderson study, this was the pattern found, with earlier studies showing smaller effect sizes than more recent studies. The major strength of lab experiments is that any causal relationships between exposure to violent game play and subsequent aggressive behaviour can be determined, although such studies are usually used to measure short term effects only.
A major weakness of lab experiments is that researchers cannot measure "real life" aggression, therefore must use measures of aggressive behaviour that have no relationship to real life aggression.
Longitudinal studies are able to observe patterns of behaviour and document both short term and long term effects. However, a problem for most longitudinal studies in this area is that participants may be exposed to other forms of media violence (e.g. on television) during the course of the study, meaning that the effect from violent video game exposure alone is uncertain. Research has yet to establish a reliable causal link between violent game play and aggressive behaviour.
A bi-directional model (Gentile et al) has been proposed whereby, although playing violent video games may cause an increase in aggressive behaviour, it is just as likely that people who already possess personality traits that orientate them towards aggressive behaviour, preferentially select violent video games for recreational purposes. Positive effects of video games Helping behaviour Multiplayer games & social commitment Tetris Why don't prosocial video games have more of an effect? Methodological limitations Therapeutic applications Research has also shown that playing a prosocial (relative to a violent or neutral) game can increase helping behaviour.
Greitmeyer and Osswald demonstrated that participants who played the prosocial video game Lemmings (where they had to ensure the safety of the lemmings) subsequently displayed significantly more prosocial behaviour than those who played an aggressive game (Lamers) or a neutral game (Tetris).
After playing the respective video games for eight minutes, participants saw the researcher accidentally knock a cup of pencils off a table and onto the floor. Of those who played the prosocial game, 67% helped pick up the pencils, whereas only 33% of those who played the neutral game and 25% of those who played the aggressive game helped. Games that involve other players offer the possibility of social outcomes, including learning about a problem in society, or exploring a social issue.
Kahne et al found that the majority of those who listed The Sims as a favourite game said they learned about problems in society and explored social issues while playing computer games.
Lenhart et al carried out a large scale US survey to investigate the influence of multiplayer game play on social commitment. They found that 64% of those who played multiplayer games such as Halo (where players must battle to save humankind) or The Sims were committed to civic participation (compared to 59% of "solo" players), and 26% had tried to persuade others how to vote in an election (compared to 19% of solo players).
They also found that those who regularly took part in social interaction related to the game (e.g. on websites or discussion boards) were more committed civically and politically. Research has shown that playing Tetris can help to reduce memory flashbacks after traumatic events. Holmes et al showed volunteers traumatic images of personal injury (e.g. from traffic accidents). 30 minutes later, some volunteers played Tetris for 10 minutes, some played Pub Quiz and some did nothing. In a second experiment, the wait between viewing the film and playing the computer games was extended to four hours. In both experiments, those who played Tetris had significantly fewer flashbacks from the film compared to the other groups.
Tetris was effective as long as it was played within a four hour "window" after the traumatic event. This was achieved without altering the person's ability to make sense of the event. The researchers concluded that playing the game made it possible to interfere with the way that traumatic memories are formed in the mind. Not all computer games are able to do this, and it is thought that games like Tetris reduce flashbacks because they compete with the same sensory channels that are needed to form the memory. Greitmeyer and Osswald suggest that 85% of video games involve some kind of violence. Therefore, although the content of prosocial games can cause behavioural shifts in an altruistic direction, people who play video games are much less likely to experience this type of game, partly because they are seen as less attractive.
Consequently, the video game industry is less likely to produce such games for purely commercial reasons (i.e. they are less likely to sell). A problem for surveys in game research concerns the lack of controls for young people's prior civic commitments and prosocial activities.
The lack of random exposure to civic gaming opportunities (i.e. young people choose these games rather than being randomly allocated to them) also limits our ability to make causal claims about how games or features of games influence the development of social and civic responsibilities. Video games have been successfully used in the treatment of post-traumatic stress. For example, the Virtual Iraq computer "game" is a "fully-immersive" computer stimulation, which allows soldiers suffering post-traumatic stress disorder to relive and confront psychological trauma in a low threat context. Facebook use Self esteem How does Facebook increase self esteem? Facebook use & college grades Gonzales et al argue that Facebook walls can have a positive influence on our self esteem, because feedback posted on them by others tends to be overwhelmingly positive. In a study at Cornell University in the US, students were given 3 minutes to use their Facebook page, look at themselves in the mirror or do nothing. Those who had interacted with their Facebook page subsequently gave much more positive feedback about themselves than the other two groups. One explanation for the relationship between Facebook and positive self esteem comes from the Hyperpersonal model (Walther).
This claims that self-selection of the information we choose to represent ourselves (e.g. through photos, personal details and witty comments) can have a positive influence on self esteem.
Computer mediated communication (such as through the medium of Facebook) offers people an opportunity for positive self-esteem as feedback left on their "wall" is invariably positive. Facebook friends and stress Facebook use and stress Charles et al used focus group and interview techniques to investigate the Facebook habits of 200 undergraduate students in Scotland.
A significant number (12%) experienced anxiety linked to their use of the social networking site.
The majority who reported anxiety had significantly more friends than other Facebook users. They reported stress from deleting unwanted contacts, the constant pressure to be humorous and entertaining and worrying about the proper type of etiquette towards different friends.
Of the students surveyed, 32% stated that rejecting friend requests made them feel guilty and uncomfortable and 10% reported that they disliked receiving friend requests. The stress associated with Facebook use has been supported in a case study of an 18 year old asthmatic man whose condition was stable until he split up with his girlfriend and she erased him from her Facebook page (D'Amato et al).
He became depressed and changed his Facebook name in order to become "friends" with her again, but after logging on to the site and seeing her picture, his maximum breath force was reduced, a sign of his asthma worsening.
This case indicates that social networking sites such as Facebook could be a significant source of psychological stress, and a triggering factor in depressed asthmatic individuals. In a study at Ohio State University, Karpinski et al found that the majority of students who use Facebook every day underachieved by as much as an entire grade compared with those who do not use the site.
The report also found that Facebook users spent between one to five hours a week studying, while non-users of the site studied between 11 and 15 hours a week. The link between lower grades and Facebook use was found even in graduate students.
Karpinski acknowledges that her study does not suggest that excessive Facebook use directly causes lower grades, merely that there is some relationship between the two. She suggests that other personality factors are likely to be involved, and perhaps Facebook users are simply prone to distraction.
However, other psychologists have gone further. Greenfield argued that social networking sites such as Facebook "infantilise" the brain by shortening attention span and providing instant gratification. According to Schwerin and Newell, behavioural change cannot occur without attitude change having first taken place. The Hovland-Yale Model The model The source The message The audience Hovland's team discovered that effective persuasion could be achieved by focusing on who says what to whom, i.e. the communicator (who), the persuasive message (what) and the audience (to whom).
Experts are more effective because they are more credible than non-experts
Popular & attractive sources are more effective than unpopular or unattractive sources
Messages are more effective if we think they are not intended to persuade
A message can be more effective if it creates a moderate level of fear
Low & high intelligence audiences are less easily persuaded than those with moderate intelligence
Presenting both sides of an argument is more attractive to intelligent audiences One important source characteristic is the attractiveness of the communicator.
Social psychological research has shown that attractive communicators are more persuasive than less attractive communicators (Petty and Cacioppo).
Celebrities often appear in advertisements in order to persuade audiences to buy a particular brand. Putwain and Symes investigated whether classroom fear appeals (relating to the timing of an upcoming examination) influenced examination performance among a sample of secondary school students.
When fear appeals emphasised a "mastery" approach (e.g. they included advice about how to make the most of the time before the exam), their frequency was positively related to examination performance. However, when they were perceived as threatening (i.e. creating greater test anxiety), they were negatively related to examination performances. Younger people are more susceptible to persuasive messages than are adults or the elderly. This has implications for the use of children as witnesses, for example in child abuse cases, when their attitudes can readily be altered by misleading information (Loftus).
Children also appear to be more susceptible to the persuasive power of advertising. Martin found that whereas older children had a good understanding of the persuasive intent of advertisements, younger children did not. Evaluation Attractive sources Research on product endorsement suggests that celebrities are not as effective as we might imagine, given the predictions of the Hovland-Yale model.
O'Mahony and Meenaghan found that celebrity endorsements were not regarded as particularly convincing or believable.
Hume concluded that celebrity endorsement of a product does not significantly increase the persuasive communications of the advert. Sometimes the celebrity can overshadow the product so that people remember the celebrity but persuasion fails because they can't remember the product. Fear appeals do work Research has shown that fear appeals can be persuasive if they do not petrify the audience with fear and if the audience is informed how to avoid the danger. This was supported in a real-life anti drugs campaign. In 2008, the Australian government launched phase 4 of a campaign to worn young people about the dangers of crystal meth or "ice". The ICE campaign used moderate fear: through explicit images, scenes and consequences (e.g. family abuse, skin abnormalities and criminal behaviour). However, it also emphasised choice, as well as opportunities for positive attitude formation and change. Although this phase is ongoing, an earlier phase (covering marijuana, ecstasy and amphetamines) found that 78% of 13-24 year olds felt that the campaign had changed how they felt about drugs. Gender bias Research suggests that women are more susceptible to persuasive communications than are men.
Eagly et al explained this in terms of socialisation differences- women are socialised to conform and therefore are more open to social influence.
Sistrunk and McDavid claimed that studies find women more easily persuaded because in most cases the topic used was one with which men were more familiar. Women, they argued, would not be so susceptible to persuasive communications if the topic was one with which they were familiar (and men were not).
Karabenick provided evidence to support this claim, finding that influence varied with item content: males were influenced more with feminine content, females more with masculine content. Methodological problems in application Much of the early research carried out by Hovland et al to develop this model used students and army personnel.
As Hovland himself pointed out, it is perhaps inappropriate to generalise from these samples to the general population. These groups had an age, wealth and education profile which was untypical of the general public.
The experiments were also in a position to cut off other stimuli and demand the complete attention of study participants, something that real life sources rarely have. Elaboration-Likelihood Model (ELM) The model Online shopping Health campaigns Petty and Cacioppo suggested two different routes to persuasion depending on whether the audience is likely to focus on the message itself or on other factors such as how attractive or credible the source appears to be.
If an audience is likely to focus on the arguments (e.g. if they are of personal interest to them), then a central route to persuasion is more appropriate.
If they focus more on the context of the message than the message itself, then a peripheral route is more likely to be effective.
When processing by this route, individuals are influenced more by contextual cues (such as celebrity endorsement of a product or the mood created). Cacioppo and Petty suggest that some people enjoy analysing arguments (high need for cognition) and are more likely to focus on the quality of the arguments than their context. MESSAGE Central route Peripheral route Audience motivated to think about the message Focus on quality of arguments L Lasting attitude change Audience not motivated to think about the message Focus on peripheral factors Temporary attitude change Lin et al asked 263 Taiwanese students to take part in an online shopping study in a virtual shopping mall.
Each student had to select a mobile phone based on consumer reviews that had previously been selected from Amazon. The reviews for each phone differed in terms of quality (e.g. high quality reviews were objected & supported with relevant facts, low quality reviews were subjective and based more on emotional reaction) and the quantity of reviews. Students also completed a "need for cognition" measure.
Both quality and quantity of reviews positively influenced purchasing intention- students were more likely to buy a phone that had a large number of high quality reviews.
However, consistent with the predictions of the ELM, high need for cognition students placed a greater importance on review quality rather than quantity of reviews when making their decision to purchase. Vidine et al showed that need for cognition (NC) is also a relevant factor in real-life health campaigns.
Students were exposed either to a fact-based (central route) or emotion-based (peripheral route) smoking risk campaign. Those with higher NC were more influenced by the fact-based message (central route), whereas participants with low NC were more influenced by the emotion-based message (the peripheral route).
What is also clear from research on the ELM is that when people lack expertise about an issue (e.g. HIV risks or healthy eating), they are more likely to employ the peripheral route as they consider a health message.
This helps to explain why health claims unsupported by research findings (e.g. that organic food is healthier than non-organic food) are often appealing to many people. Evaluation Online shopping Lin et al's research finding contributes to a better understanding of the effect of online reviews. For marketing executives, the peripheral route perspective demonstrates the importance of generating as many reviews as possible for a low need for cognition audience. Knowledge of the demographic profile of a target audience, e.g. their level of need for cognition can also guide Internet marketers to design appropriate promotional materials and review formats in order to influence online shoppers effectively. Peripheral route influence may only be temporary In 1991, the prominent US basketball player, Earvin "Magic" Johnson Jr. announced he was HIV positive. At the time of his announcement, psychologists Prenner & Fritzsche had just finished collecting data on participants' willingness to help a person with the AIDS virus. They found that no university students volunteered when asked to help an AIDS victim carry out a school project.
However, after Magic Johnson announced that he was a victim, the helping rate soared to 83%.. 4 and a half months after the announcement, helping was back to preannouncement levels, indicating that although the peripheral route influence (in this case a celebrity role model) can be considerable, there is a strong likelihood that an change produced by this route is likely to be temporary. Why do people sometimes take the peripheral route? Fiske and Taylor claim that most human beings are essentially cognitive misers in that they frequently rely on simple and time-efficient strategies when evaluating information and making decisions.
If the content of a message is not personally important, then individuals are more likely to be influenced by contextual cues (such as celebrity endorsement of a product or the mood created).
However, when the content is more important, they are better motivated to process the message more carefully (i.e. take a central route). Thus, we may be influenced by Gary Lineker endorsing crisps, but not if he was endorsing mortgages or bank loans. Persuasiveness of TV advertising Hard sell & soft sell advertising Advertisers sometimes refer to the distinction between the central route and the peripheral route as "hard sell" (presenting factual information about a product) and "soft sell" (using more subtle and creative persuasive techniques.
Snyder and DeBono found that hard sell and soft sell approaches had different effects on different types of people.
People who scored highly on a test of "self monitoring" (i.e. regulating their behaviour so that they would be perceived by others in a favourable manner) had more favourable attitudes to soft sell advertisements. People low in self monitoring (i.e. less image conscious) preferred more factual, hard sell approaches. Product endorsement Fowles estimated that in 1990, 20% of TV commercials used celebrity product endorsements. Giles suggests that celebrities provide a familiar face- a reliable source of information that we feel we can trust because of the parasocial relationship that we have built up with that celebrity.
Celebrities are also seen as a neutral source of information and so perform the function of "rubber stamping" the advertiser's claims. O'Mahony and Meenaghan found that in general, celebrity endorsements were not regarded as overly convincing or believable, with perceived credibility and expertise of the endorser being the two "source" characteristics with the greatest influence on any consumer purchase intentions. Children & advertising Pester power Do children understand that the purpose of advertisements is to persuade us to buy? Martin, in a meta-analysis of studies, found a strong positive correlation between age and understanding of positive intent.
Older children could discriminate better between commercials and regular programming, and better understood the persuasive intent of the commercials and trusted them less. It is a commonly accepted belief that advertising to young children increases the degree to which they "pester" their parents (and others) for the products they have seen on TV. Pine and Nash studied the relationship between the amount of commercial TV watched and the number of advertised items on children's letters to Santa. There was a strong positive correlation.
Pine and Nash studied children's Christmas gift requests in the US and Sweden. In Sween, television advertising aimed at under 12s is banned by law. They found significantly fewer gift requests among Swedish children than among children from the US. Although there are a number of possible explanations for this cultural difference, the researchers suggest that the lack of direct advertising to Swedish children is a strong candidate. Persuasiveness of TV advertising Importance of congruence Bushman suggests that TV advertisements may be better remembered if there is a congruence between the programme content and the content of the ad. For example, people may be more likely to remember advertisements if they are embedded within programmes with the same type of content.
This relationship can be explained in terms of the viewer's motives for watching a particular TV programme. For example, an individual may watch a programme with cognitively involving content (such as a documentary or the news) in order to gain knowledge. This motive persists throughout the whole programme so that commercials that are consistent with this motive (i.e. are also cognitively involving) would be easier to recall, and therefore their message would be more persuasive. Commercials that are inconsistent with this motive would, as a consequence, be less persuasive. Sex, violence and persuasive advertisements Advertisers are especially interested in making their commercials persuasive for viewers in the 18-34 years age bracket. These viewers are believed to be more susceptible to commercial influence because they have less well established purchasing habits and more disposable income that do older viewers (Hamilton).
Because younger viewers also watch less TV than older viewers, advertisers tend to embed their commercial messages in programmes that younger viewers like to watch, such as those that contain violence or sex. However, research suggests that advertising during this type of programme may backfire for advertisers. The content of these programmes appears to impair memory for advertising shown during the commercial breaks (Bushman), thus reducing their ability to persuade their audience to buy.
Most research has focused on neutral adverts embedded in this type of programme, but it is possible that people would pay more attention to adverts that also have a violent or sexual theme. Research on violence in advertising is rare, but sexual appeals are a more common theme in TV advertising (Bushman). There appears to be an assumption among advertisers that sex attracts attention, which increases sales. However, although sexual adverts do appeal to younger audiences, brand recall is poorer for sexual adverts than it is for neutral ones (Alden & Crowley) Are sex & violence persuasive in advertising? Bushman tested whether sex and violence increased or decreased persuasiveness of television advertisements. Student participants were assigned randomly to watch either a violent, sexually explicit or neutral TV programme. Each 40-45 minute programme was accompanied by 3 commercial breaks containing a total of 9 advertisements, 3 with a violent theme, 3 with a sexual theme and 3 neutral ones.
Participants were then asked to recall the adverts when the programme was over. They were less likely to remember the advertised brands when their adverts were embedded in a violent or sexual programme than when they were embedded in a neutral programme. Within these programmes, violent adverts were the least memorable and therefore the least persuasive.
This study suggests that if advertisers want to increase the persuasiveness of their messages, they should avoid embedding them in programmes containing violence or sex. Evaluation Hard versus soft sell advertising Does product endorsement work? Limitations of celebrity endorsement research Disentangling media and other effects Evaluation Impact of advertising Measuring persuasiveness of adverts Gender bias in advertising In TV advertising, men are typically shown in stereotypical roles of authority and dominance (e.g. an "expert" rather than a "user") and, when shown attempting non-traditional gender roles such as cleaning or cooking, men are often represented as incompetent.
Such gender stereotypes reinforce the traditional role of women as caretakers, wives or subordinates (Scharrer et al).
As a result, gender stereotyped television adverts promote acceptance of current social arrangements no matter how biased or inappropriate these representations are (Coltrane and Messineo). To determine how "persuasive" a TV advertisement has been, researchers typically measure how much viewers like a product after viewing, or measure their intention to buy.
However, for an advert to have been persuasive, it should lead to an actual purchase of the product being advertised.
This, according to Giles, is the major problem of this type of research.
What is being measured is not the actual behaviour (i.e. product purchase) but a related attitude (liking, intention etc) that may, or may not, lead to a purchase. Giles points out that the reason TV and cinema advertising have been so successful is due to the fact that their adverts generally have a captive audience.
However, unlike cinema audiences, TV audiences have more options open to them when it comes to the viewing of adverts. For example, Cornstock and Scharrer found that 80% of viewers were likely to leave the room when the adverts came on, and that when programmes were recorded, viewers tended to fast forward through the adverts, thereby minimising their impact. Okazaki et al carried out a meta analysis of over 75 investigations to test whether hard sell or soft sell advertisements were more persuasive in terms of attitude towards a product. They found that as hard sell techniques focus on specific, factual information (whereas soft sell techniques are more diffuse and general), viewers generally find them more believable.
However, as soft sell techniques are focused more on generating positive emotions, they are associated with more positive attitudes toward the product than hard sell techniques.
Okazaki et al also established that hard sell techniques have a greater capacity to irritate viewers by being more direct, provocative or confrontational, thus decreasing their ability to persuade. Research on celebrity endorsement suggests that it is not as persuasive as we may think.
A study by Martin et al found that their student participants were more convinced by a TV endorsement from a fictional fellow student when buying a digital camera than by one from a celebrity.
The researchers claimed that young people like to make sure their product is fashionable among people who resemble them, rather than approved by celebrities.
In a study of the "persuasiveness" of over 5000 TV commercials, Hume concluded that celebrity endorsement did not significantly increase the persuasive communication of the advert. Erfgen claims that research on the persuasiveness of celebrity endorsement has tended to focus more on the characteristics of the celebrity and less on the characteristics of the message communicated by the advertisement.
Erfgen argues that a celebrity might be portrayed as endorsing a product in a number of different ways. For example, they may endorse it in an explicit mode (I endorse this product), an implicit mode (I use this product) or in a co-present mode (i.e. celebrity and product are depicted simultaneously without further explanation).
Research has not considered these different endorsement modes in order to determine whether one type is more persuasive than the others. Pine & Nash's study found a positive correlation between exposure to commercial television and Christmas gift requests. However, this correlation was stronger for children who watched TV on their own than for those who watched with their parents, suggesting that parents somehow mediate in the relationship between advertisement and subsequent behaviour.
The influence of peers is also an important factor, as conversations with friends about the things they have seen in TV adverts inevitably shape subsequent behaviour.
Consequently, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to confidently predict a direct causal relationship between exposure to advertisements and subsequent consumer behaviour among children. Social-Psychological Explanations Parasocial relationships Evaluation A parasocial relationship is one in which an individual is attracted to another individual (usually a celebrity) but the target individual is usually unaware of the existence of the person who has created the relationship (Horton & Wohl).
Such relationships, common among celebrities and their fans, might be particularly appealing to some individuals because the relationships make few demands. Because a fan does not usually have a real relationship with a celebrity, they do not run the risk of criticism or rejection, as might be the case in a real relationship (Ashe and McCutcheon).
Schiappa et al carried out a meta-analysis of studies of parasocial relationships. From this they concluded that parasocial relationships were most likely to form with TV celebrities who were seen as attractive and similar in some way to the viewer.
An important additional factor appeared to be that they were perceived as real or that they acted in a believable way. Schiappa et al believed that if the celebrity acted in a believable way, viewers were able to compare how they would behave in similar situations.
Although some researchers have claimed that such parasocial relationships are mainly an adolescent phenomenon, Schiappa et al found no evidence of age being a predictor of their development. Although it is commonly believed that parasocial relationships with celebrities are dysfunctional (formed on the basis of loneliness), research does not support that assertion. Schiappa et al's meta analysis found that loneliness was not a predictor of the formation of parasocial relationships.
In fact, some research suggests that people who are more socially active and socially motivated are more likely to engage in parasocial relationships than those who are not (Sood and Rogers).
Research by Derrick et al with US undergraduates examined the relationship between self-esteem, identification with a parasocial relationship and the perceived discrepancies between the ideal and actual self.
Those with low self-esteem saw their favourite celebrity as very similar to their ideal selves, but those with high self-esteem saw their favourite celebrity as similar to their actual selves.
After writing an essay about their favourite celebrity those with low self-esteem reported feeling closer to their ideal selves and experienced a boost in self-esteem. For people with low self-esteem these benefits were unique to parasocial relationships and were not experienced in their real-life relationships. Evolutionary Explanations Attraction to creative individuals Celebrity gossip Evaluation Human beings possess a love of novelty (known as neophilia). For females choosing a mate, therefore, this would have led to a demand for ever-more creative displays from potential partners. Mate choice in the EEA (environment of evolutionary adaptation) could well have favoured creative courtship displays, which would explain many of the characteristics that are universally and uniquely developed in humans, such as music, art and humour (Miller).
Because musicians, artists and actors display these talents in abundance, we are inevitably drawn to them. Miller argued that although natural selection favours the development of skills that enhance survival, sexual selection might favour minds prone to creativity and fantasy. Celebrities represent this world of fantasy so we are attracted to them due to their association with it. The exchange of social information about other group members might have been adaptive for our ancestors when they started living in larger social groups.
This exchange of information is what we now refer to as "gossip".
De Backer suggests that gossip creates bonds within social groups and serves a similar adaptive function to social grooming by initiating and maintaining alliances.
Gossip also functions to construct and manipulate reputations, particularly those of rivals, and to exchange relevant information about potential mates.
However, we not only talk about people we encounter in real life, but also gossip about individuals we encounter through the meida.
Barkow suggests that our minds are fooled into regarding media characters as being members of our social network, thus celebrities trigger the same gossip mechanisms that have evolved to keep up with the affairs of ingroup members. Shiraishi et al discovered an enzyme correlated with novelty seeking tendencies. Genetic differences mean that people produce different variations of an enzyme called MAOA (monoamine oxidase A). The researchers found that one form of this enzyme was significantly associated with higher scores of novelty-seeking, suggesting that there may be a genetic origin for neophilia and our attraction to creative people. Evaluation Evaluation Suggesting that a love of novelty, and therefore an attraction to creative people, arose because early females preferred creative behaviour in potential mates tells us nothing about why they would prefer it.
Sexual selection explanations are arbitrary because they argue that traits are preferred simply because they would have been "attractive".
Such explanations do not provide an adequate adaptive reason to explain why traits such as creativity in music, art and humour would have been attractive to ancestral members of the opposite sex. De Backer surveyed over 800 participants to test evolutionary explanations for celebrity gossip. Participants reported that gossip was seen as a useful way of acquiring information about social group members.
Media exposure was also found to be a strong predictor of interest in celebrities. De Backer concluded that media exposure would lead to the misperception that celebrities were actually a part of the social network, thus explaining the interest in celebrity group. Evaluation Parasocial interactions with celebrities offer many social benefits. They provide models of social behaviour (such as intimacy and generosity) and an opportunity to learn cultural values (such as the importance of marriage).
Perse and Rubin's study of parasocial relationships with soap opera characters found that, due to the fact that people are exposed to the same characters over and over again, one benefit of parasocial interaction is a perceived reduction in uncertainty about social relationships.
Research by Maltby et al found evidence of a relationship between attitudes to celebrities and body image among female adolescents. This was strongest in girls between the ages of 14 and 16, and suggests that parasocial relationships with celebrities who are perceived as being slim and with a good body shape may lead to a poor body image in female adolescents, and consequently may predispose them to eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.
No relationship was found in male adolescents, and research suggests that for females, the relationship disappears in early adulthood. Evaluation Researchers have explained why some people are more vulnerable to the formation of parasocial relationships through the concept of attachment style. Cole and Leets reported that individuals with anxious ambivalent attachment were most likely, and avoidant individuals least likely to enter into a parasocial relationship.
Anxious ambivalent attachment is characterised by a concern that others will not reciprocate one's desire for intimacy. Coles & L.eets argued that individuals with anxious ambivalent attachment style turn to TV characters as a means of satisfying their "unrealistic and often unmet relational needs".
People with an avoidant attachment style, on the other hand, find it difficult to develop intimate relationships and therefore are less likely to seek real life or parasocial relationships. Absorption-Addiction Model Experiments vs self reports Most of the research on parasocial relationships has simply involved asking people about their attitudes to celebrities.
However, Tsao argues that experimental manipulations may be more effecive in determining the causes of identification with a celebrity.
For example, Noble created two viewing conditions- a cinema environment and television. He found that identification with media characters arose more readily in a darkened cinema environment where viewers were isolated from everyday reality.
TV viewing did not invite identification as readily because the "lights on" environment made viewers more aware of their own identities, thus preventing them from "merging" with the character(s) seen on screen. According to this model (McCutcheon et al), most people never go beyond admiring celebrities because of the celebrities' entertainment or social value.
However, the motivational forces driving this absorption may eventually become addictive, leading the person to more extreme (and even delusional) behaviours in order to sustain satisfaction with the parasocial relationship they have developed with the celebrity. Giles & Maltby identify 3 levels in this process: Giles & Maltby suggest that the intense personal dimension of celebrity attraction can lead to the development of a passive parasocial relationship (e.g. "if something bad happens to my favourite celebrity, I feel as if it happened to me").
With the borderline-pathological dimension, however, the relationship may go way beyond the parasocial, with the person believing there is a real relationship between themselves and the celebrity. Entertainment-social Intense-personal Borderline-pathological Fans are attracted to a favourite celebrity because of their perceived ability to entertain and to become a source of social interaction and gossip, for example: "Learning the life story of my favourite celebrity is a lot of fun." This aspect of celebrity worship reflects intensive and compulsive feelings about the celebrity, akin to the obsession tendencies of fans often referred to in the literature, for example "I consider my favourite celebrity to be my soul mate." This dimension is typified by uncontrollable behaviours and fantasies about their celebrities, for example: "If I walked through the door of my favourite celebrity's house she or he would be happy to see me." Links to mental health Maltby et al used the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ) to assess the relationship between level of celebrity worship and personality.
They found that whereas the entertainment social level was associated with extraversion, the intense-personal level was associated with neuroticism.
As neuroticism is related to anxiety and depression, this provides a clear explanation of why higher levels of celebrity worship are related to poorer mental health.
Maltby et al suggest that future research might explore the implications of a reported connection between the borderline-pathological level of celebrity worship and psychoticism, as measured on the EPQ. Celebrity worship Evaluation Celebrity stalking Evaluation Measuring celebrity worship How common is celebrity worship? Developmental problems Parasocial bereavement Most research on celebrity worship has used the Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS), a 17-item scale with the lower scores indicating more individualistic behaviour (e.g. watching or reading about celebrities) and higher scores indicating over-indentification and obsession with celebrities.
Maltby et al used this scale to produce the 3 levels of parasocial relationships: entertainment-social, intense-personal and borderline-pathological. Although it is commonly assumed that celebrity worship is an uncommon phenomenon, a study by Maltby et al found that over one third of a combined sample of students and workers scored above the midpoints of the three subscales of the CAS.
A later study (Maltby et al) found that in a sample of 372 people aged 18-47, 15% were at the entertainment-social level of celebrity worship, 5% at the intense-personal level, and less than 2% would be considered borderline-pathological. Celebrity worship has been associated with less desirable developmental outcomes. In a telephone survey of 833 Chinese teenagers, Cheung and Yue found that "idol worship" was associated with lower levels of work or study, and lower self-esteem and less successful identity achievement. Those teenagers who worshipped idols from television demonstrated the lowest levels of identity achievement.
Maltby et al concluded that celebrity worshippers have lower levels of psychological wellbeing than non worshippers.
Data from 307 UK adults identified that whereas scores on the entertainment-social subscale of the CAS predicted patterns of social dysfunction, scores on the intense-personal subscale predicted both depression and anxiety scores. The authors conclude that celebrity worship is a behavioural representation of poor psychological well-being, which results from failed attempts to escape from or simply cope with the pressures of everyday life. (Maltby et al) Parasocial bereavement was described by Giles as the grief felt at the death of a celebrity. Giles and Naylor analysed tributes left on the BBC website following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales and BBC presenter Jill Dando, both of whom died in tragic circumstances. These tributes revealed the nature of the parasocial relationships formed with these two celebrities. Many of those who posted messages wrote about how they had come to "know" Diana and Jill, even though they had never met, and many revealed how they were "taken aback" by the strength of their feelings following their deaths. Limited benefits Negative consequences Evolutionary explanation Religiosity "You shall not make for yourself an idol"- within the Christian religion, the Ten Commandments forbid the worship of anyone other than God. We can therefore expect that there would be a negative relationship between celebrity worship and religiosity (strength of religious adherence).
To test this hypothesis, Maltby et al compared participants' scores on different religiosity measures against scores on the Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS). They did indeed find that as religiosity increased (for both men and women), the tendency to worship celebrities decreased. The Cheung & Yue study found that teenagers who "worshipped" key family members, teachers or other individuals with whom they came into regular contact tended to demonstrate higher levels of self-esteem and educational achievement than teenagers who worshipped TV stars.
This is understandable given that the admiration of those who are able to provide tangible benefits and inputs to the adolescents' lives would be more likely to provide a greater positive impact than those celebrities with whom they enjoy only a parasocial relationship. Research (e.g. Phillips) has shown that high profile celebrity suicides are often followed by increased numbers of suicides among the general population.
Sheridan et al make the point that pathological worshippers are often drawn to more entertaining, even antisocial celebrities, so we might expect fans of more rebellious celebrities such as the late Amy Winehouse or Pete Doherty to seek to emulate them, with negative consequences for the worshipper. As celebrity deaths are more likely than non-celebrity deaths, Wasserman warns that when reporting celebrity suicides, the media should not let the glamour associated with that individual obscure any mental health or drugs problems from which they may have been suffering. Evolutionary psychologists suggest that it is natural for humans to look up to those individuals who receive attention because they have succeeded in our society.
For our ancestors, this would have meant respecting good hunters and elders. Because hunting is no longer an essential skill, we may look to celebrities, whose fame and fortune we would like to emulate. It makes a good deal of evolutionary sense to value individuals according to how successful they are, because whoever is getting more of what everybody wants is probably using above average methods to get them, therefore would serve as a valuable role model. Stalking Although opinions vary, most people think that stalking places the person being stalked in fear for their safety.
Stalking involves repeated and persistent attempts to impose unwanted communication and/or contact on another person, e.g. through telephone calls, email and by approaching & following the target person.
If a fan's attempts to contact or approach a celebrity are unwanted, repetitive and provoke fear in the celebrity, then their behaviour might be labelled as criminal harassment or stalking (Meloy). Types of celebrity stalker Two types of stalker have been identified. About 1 in 5 stalkers develop a love obsession or fixation with another person (such as a celebrity) with whom they have no personal relationship. Stalkers of this type suffer from delusional thought patterns and many suffer from a mental disorder, such as schizophrenia (Meloy).
Since most are unable to develop normal personal relationships through more conventional means, they retreat into a life of fantasy relationships with individuals they hardly know, if at all. They may invent fictional stories, casting celebrities in the lead role as their love interest. They then attempt to act out these fictional scripts in real life.
The second, more common simple obsessional stalking type is distinguished by some previous personal relationship having existed between stalker and victim before the stalking behaviour began. Attachment style Bartholomew & Horowitz proposed a model of adult attachment styles based on individual working models of self and others. One of these, the "pre occupied" attachment style, has been linked to the phenomenon of celebrity stalking. Individuals with this type of attachment style have a negative self-model and a positive other-model. They have a poor self-image and a positive image of others.
Because of this, such individuals actively seek approval and personal validation from others. Meloy claims that celebrity stalking could be considered to be an indicative form of an abnormal attachment similar to the pre occupied attachment style.
Individuals with this type of attachment style may engage in celebrity stalking because they overvalue others and perceive that contact with celebrities will indicate that they are acceptable and valued, thus challenging their negative views of self. Psychopathology of stalkers Maltby et al claim that the tendency to engage in stalking behaviour may actually be indicative of an underlying psychopathology.
They found that scores on a measure of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) correlated significantly with revised measures of the CAS-intense-personal and CAS-borderline-pathological (but not the entertainment-social subscale).
Stalkers sometimes behave irrationally towards their victims, in ways that clearly reflect an underlying psychopathology (Cupach and Spitzberg). For example, those who score high on the borderline-pathological subscale of the CAS endorse irrational items such as "If I were lucky enough to meet my favourite celebrity, and he/she asked me to do something illegal as a favour, I would probably do it." Anti-stalking legislation Indication of attachment difficulties Psychological profiles Roberts found that individuals with low self-esteem who were motivated to approach others for self-validation were also more prone to celebrity stalking. This pattern of attachment is typical of the preoccupied attachment style identified by Bartholomew & Horowitz, and supports an association between preoccupied attachment and the likelihood of approach behaviour towards celebrities.
Roberts suggests that this finding has a number of important implications, including the police being able to draw a psychological profile of an unknown offender after persistent and unwanted attempts to contact a particular celebrity.
Similarly, for persistent stalking offenders, clinical interventions may then be designed to help them overcome their attachment difficulties. Tonin provided evidence to support the proposition that celebrity stalking might be explained in terms of abnormal attachment. She measured stalkers' retrospective childhood attachment styles and their current adult attachment using two self-report measures.
In order to see if stalkers detained under the Mental Health Act were less securely attached than non-stalkers, she compared them to two other groups: 24 people detained in the same way but with no history of stalking, and a non-clinical community sample of 33.
It was found that the stalkers had significantly more evidence of insecure adult attachment styles than the control group. Although laws that address stalking have emerged, a continuing problem is that many of the strategies employed by celebrity stalkers, such as being in the same place as the victim, are basic rights & freedoms that are guaranteed by law.
Similarly, as fans are encouraged to be adoring it becomes difficult to assess when fan behaviour actually becomes stalking.
The impact of stalking behaviour on its victims has led to the development of anti-stalking laws in the UK and US. Perhaps not surprisingly, given the number of celebrities who live there, California has the broadest set of anti-stalking laws. For example, in 1996 Robert Hoskins was given a 10 year prison sentence after he was convicted of stalking Madonna in her Hollywood home.