Journal article

Farewell on screen: Uncertainty in parasocial relationships and breakups with fictional media characters✰,✰✰


  • 2024
Published in:
  • Poetics. - Elsevier BV. - 2024, vol. 103, p. 101874
English Viewers form enduring bonds, or parasocial relationships (PSRs), with media characters. They suffer breakup distress when such relationships are dissolved and show emotional reactions similar to those from the dissolution of social relationships. Alongside definite and temporary breakups, this paper introduces the term uncertain breakup, and the three breakup types are analyzed and compared. In a two-survey study with viewers of five shows (Emily in Paris, Bridgerton, Peaky Blinders, Shadow and Bone, Never Have I Ever), the three parasocial breakup types were analyzed in Study I with independent samples and with dependent samples in Study II, which also considered the behavioral effects of parasocial breakups. The results show that PSRs positively predict viewers’ temporary, uncertain, and definite breakup distress and subsequent PSRs after a breakup. The three types of breakup distress differ regarding, for example, their moderation of viewers’ level of loneliness or their behavioral effects. The results’ implications are discussed for future research on PSRs and their dissolution.
Faculté des sciences économiques et sociales et du management
Département des sciences de la communication et des médias
  • English
Open access status
Persistent URL

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