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Parasocial Interactions and Relationships

Holger Schramm

Subject Psychology
Communication Studies » Communication Reception and Effects

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


The term “parasocial interaction” (PSI) was first used by Horton and Wohl (1956) to describe viewers’ responses to media characters (called “personae” in PSI research; singular: “persona”) during media consumption. Horton and Strauss (1957) set down the first systematic descriptions and observations of PSI as well as of more long-term responses to personae, known as parasocial relationships (PSR). These two articles can be regarded as the beginnings of theorizing about PSI and PSR, as empirical data were still nonexistent. In the following decades, many communication scholars picked up the idea of PSI and PSR and investigated various aspects of the concepts. Uses-and-gratifications researchers, for example (→  Uses and Gratifications ), have regarded PSI and PSR primarily as motivators for →  selective exposure or as a special type of interpersonal involvement that combines different phenomena like →  Interaction , →  identification , and long-term relationships with media personae ( Rubin et al. 1985 ; →  Relationship Development ). Culturally diverse scientific communities, especially Anglo-American, German, and Scandinavian researchers, have worked on PSI and PSR. Additionally, distinct scientific disciplines, such as communication, social psychology, media psychology, film studies, and the arts have applied PSI and PSR research. Since all of these researchers have implemented ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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