Parasocial Relationships can in simpler terms be defined as the bond an individual creates with a fictional character, celebrity or media person. It can be said that parasocial relationships are “one-sided” in the sense that only those who form a bond know about the existence of the person they become attached to. In the past, most research has focused on parasocial relationships with television and movie characters, leaving books in the dark. However, that gap is slowly being filled as new research emerges. So, what do we know about these Relationships that individuals create with fictional characters in books? Let’s find out – Daastan has got you covered!
Parasocial Relationships and Books
Researchers Nicole Liebers and Holger Schramm aimed to fill the aforementioned gap in literature. They wanted to understand what it is that causes Parasocial Relationships to be formed in book contexts. According to their survey, “ease of cognitive access” (i.e., feeling present and reading pleasure) enabled the formation of parasocial relationships. Other important components were the level of realism and personal relevancy of the book. Additionally, they could see that the development of parasocial relationships could be predicted by the similarity between a book character and a reader. The reader’s subjective perception of attractiveness of a fictional character was another significant element.
Therapeutic Effects of Finding Friends in Books
Studies on Bibliotherapy reveal the potential benefits of implementing books as part of conventional therapy programmes. It has been noted that book reading can alleviate symptoms of mental health problems such as anxieties, depression, and phobias. As a result, it has been suggested that therapists also shall look into the attachment between patients and their most favorite fictional characters. The idea is that the relationship can reveal useful knowledge about a patients feelings and emotions. Furthermore, the parasocial relationship can be discussed as a way to motivate patients to speak more about their thought processes.
Parasocial Relationships During the Pandemic
We have all been impacted by the pandemic in one way or another. Most of us have experienced a great deal of social distancing and some of us have perhaps grown closer to our fellow fictional characters. At least this is what researcher Bradley J. Bond’s study reveals. The outcome of nearing fictional characters is suggested to be especially true for people who have distanced themselves more from friends and family. Apparently, lower levels of attachment anxiety was more common among those who would form closer parasocial relationships.
What do you think? Have your parasocial relationships with fictional book characters been impacted as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic?
We believe this line of research is indeed very interesting. Fictional characters can serve important functions in our life after all. Have you ever thought about the characters that you love the most and whether there are any similarities between them? Thinking about this might give you a lot of food for thought.
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