We all have this one figure we value and cherish so much that we want to be like them, act like them and behave like them. Unfortunately, they seldom are aware of our very own existence. For instance, a girl may like Tiwa Salvage, a popular Nigerian female music artiste, meanwhile, Tiwa Salvage is not aware that such relationship exists. This is the very essence of parasocial relationships/interactions. Parasocial relationships which often occurs as a result media usage give viewers and listeners the chance to consider media personalities as friends, despite having limited interactions with them. It is an illusionary experience, such that media audiences interact with personas like celebrities, talk show host, social media influencers, fictional characters, etc., as if they are engaged in a reciprocal relationship with them.
Parasocial relationships have been defined as “one-sided relationships, where one person extends emotional energy, interest and time, and the other party, the persona, is completely unaware of the other’s existence. Parasocial relationships are most common with celebrities, organizations (such as sports teams) or television stars” (Find A Psychologist, 2020).
Parasocial relationships sparks up as a result of fancy over the other party which is known as the persona. It can be as a result of his/her style of music, performance, way of talking, voice, activities or programmes being instituted.
Parasocial relationships are largely symbolic and one-sided social ties which media users institute with media figures and celebrities (Horton & Wohl, 1956).
Parasocial interactions and relationships, one-sided connections imagined with celebrities and media figures, are common in adolescence and might play a role in adolescent identity formation and autonomy development (Gleason, Theran & Newberg, 2017).
The term parasocial relationship was coined by Horton and Wohl in 1956 to refer to a kind of psychological relationship experienced by members of an audience in their mediated encounters with certain performers in the mass media, particularly on television. Regular viewers come to feel that they know familiar television personalities almost as friends. Parasocial relationships psychologically resemble those of face-to-face interaction but they are of course mediated and one-sided. On the rare occasions when we encounter celebrities in the street we may smile involuntarily in recognition that we know them but we are obliged to realize that they do not know us. However, onscreen, skilled television presenters foster the illusion of intimacy (Dictionary Reference, 2020).
Dictionary Reference, (2020). Parasocial interaction. Retrieved March 15th, 2020 from https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100305809
Find A Psychologist, (2020). Parasocial relationships: The nature of celebrity fascinations. Retrieved March 15th, 2020 from https://www.findapsychologist.org/parasocial-relationships-the-nature-of-celebrity-fascinations/
Gleason, T. R., Theran, S. A. & Newberg, E. M. (2017). Parasocial interactions and relationships in early adolescence. Front. Psychol., 8, 255
Horton, D., and Wohl, R. R. (1956). Mass communication and para-social interaction. Psychiatry 19, 215–229.