Authors

Alice Hall

Document Type

Article

Abstract

This study investigated identification and parasocial relationships (PSRs) with media characters by examining viewers’ responses to the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens through an online survey of 113 audience members who saw the film in a theater within a month of its release. Participants reported stronger PSR and identification with the more familiar characters from the first trilogy than with the new characters introduced in the film, although the association with identification was limited to older participants. Star Wars fanship was associated with identification and PSR for old and new characters. Familiarity with the earlier films was associated with PSR of old and new characters and with identification with the old characters. Participants were more likely to cite characters of the same gender as the one to which they felt most connected, but among the “most connected” newer characters a viewer–character gender match was not associated with stronger identification or PSR. Identification, but not PSR, with the story antagonist was associated with greater hedonic enjoyment and appreciation. Implications for audience responses to other transmedia narratives and for processes of audience reception in general are discussed.

Publication Date

January 2019

ISSN

2160-4134

Publication Title

Psychology of Popular Media Culture

Volume

8

Issue

1

First Page

88

Last Page

98

DOI

10.1037/ppm0000160

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