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Parasocial 2.0: Exploring Parasocial Processes in New Media Environments

Presentation given on August 10 at the 2014 Convention of the American Psychological Association
by

Elizabeth Cohen

on 13 August 2014

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Transcript of Parasocial 2.0: Exploring Parasocial Processes in New Media Environments

PARASOCIAL 2.0
Separate elements
EXPLORING PARASOCIAL PROCESSES IN NEW MEDIA ENVIRONMENTS
let's start at one
ELIZABETH L. COHEN
WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY

Parasocial Interaction
"The Original Recipe"
Liberace
The Lonesome
Gal
Virtual
Parasocial
Interactions
New Objects of Parasocial
Processing:
Avatars
The Social - Parasocial Dichotomy Appears
Too Rigid to Account for Encounters
with Figures on New Media that
Aren't Traditionally Social
Moving Beyond a Social- Parasocial Dichotomy
"Parasocial encounters are distinguished according to the nature of the media figure, and by the relationship that is possible with that figure
(determined by the figure’s authenticity/realism)" (p. 294)
Future Research
Factors that Could Affect Perceptions of
Social Distance on Social Network Sites?
elizabeth.cohen@mail.wvu.edu
. . . and objects of
Parasocial

relationship development
Many cultivators of
Parasocial
Interaction . . .

New Objects of Parasocial
Processing:
Artificial Intelligences
New Objects of Parasocial
Processing:
Celebrities on SNS
New Objects of Parasocial Processing:
Microcelebrities on SNS
An illusion of intimacy

one-sided, non-reciprocal
(Horton & Wohl, 1956)
Traditional Parasocial Attachments
(ordinary people known through social media)
Parasocial Processing
of the Deceased
Parasocial Processing of Deities
Para
social
Social
Sense of a realness
Believably human
Genuine in personality
Candid
Sincere
Perception that your actions
will affect another
Belief that the media
figure is within reach
Social Accessibility
Perceived Distance
Hartmann (2008): Parasocial Processing of Non-Human
Actors as a Function of Two Things
Proposed Social - Parasocial Continuum (Giles, 2002)
Application of Giles' Continuum to Parasocial
Processing on Social Media Appears Limited
Does knowing that it's
technically
possible to develop a social relationship affect how we parasocially process someone?
But does knowing that someone is not real
necessarily
affect how we perceive them socially or our feelings of intimacy for them?
Perceived Authenticity
Regardless of whether the media figure is actually real or authentic (or has an genuine personality)
Regardless of whether the media figure actually is distant, inaccessible, or unresponsive to
your actions
Extensions of Hartmann's conceptualizations to human actors on SNSs
Parasocial Relationships:

People recognize that they are
not actually in a reciprocal relationship with those they follow, but they might
perceive
as if they are
Some similar ingredients to "the original recipe"

Parasocial perceptions should should increase when:

Perceptions of social distance
(not actual social
distance)
are low
Does the media figure seem accessible?
Does it seem like my actions could affect the media figure?

Perceptions of an authenticity are high
Does the media figure seem real, non-robotic?
Does the media figure express a seemingly geniune personality?
Key Change Introduced with Parasocial 2.0 processing:
Direct interaction
(or the potential for direct interaction)
does not necessarily mean that people or media figures perceive
mutual awareness
Taye Diggs might follow me and give me a sense that he acknowledges me,
but I'm under no illusions that
he is aware of me...
A Working Conceptualization of
Parasocial Processing 2.0


The perception of having a reciprocal relationship or reciprocal social contact, when mutual awareness is actually low, fleeting, or non-existant.

Perhaps, an illusion of mutual awareness?
Building on Giles (2002) and Hartmann (2008) ...
Social interaction (friending, RTing, etc.)

Visible interaction with others on SNS

Level or Type of Fame

Mutual Network Connections

Direct addresses to "fans" etc.

Number of followers (more = more distance?)
Factors that Could Affect Perceptions
of Authenticity on Social Network Sites?
Obvious
self-promotion

Typos and other "human" mistakes

Selfies and behind-the-scenes access

Robotic or bot-like behavior
"Ghost-Tweeting"
Following TOO many people?
(Marwick & boyd, 2010)
(Cohen & Tyler, 2014)
But parasocial processing of potentially interactive figures isn't an
entirely new concept ...
Parasocial Interaction:

People recognize that they are not actually being addressed on social network sites by those that they follow, but they might
perceive
it as if they are
Understanding Parasocial Processing of Social Media Figures
Looking at parasocial processing on a continuum compromises conceptual integrity of PSI/PSR. For instance, why couldn't *any* interaction be parasocial?

We might need more inclusive measures that account for parasocial experiences that are unique to new media environments

It's still unclear if parasocial processing outcomes are any different in new media environments.

Questions and Challenges
Full transcript