Some media consumers are prone to developing parasocial relationships (PSRs)—one-sided attachments viewed as a reciprocal bond—with fictional characters. Study of parasocial relationships has linked this tendency to heightened belongingness needs. However, there is a lack of exploration of how chronic ostracism, a threat to belongingness, relates to PSRs. Thus, the current study examined whether belongingness needs moderated the relationship between forming PSRs and feelings of chronic ostracism. One hundred and eleven participants from a small historically women’s university and the Twitter book community participated in a study which included a survey on tendency to form parasocial relationships, feelings of chronic ostracism, and need to belong. It was found that belongingness needs did not moderate a relationship between parasocial relationships and chronic ostracism. Among those displaying both higher and lower belongingness needs, there was a significant negative correlation between the measure of parasocial relationships and the measure of ostracism. Deviating from the literature, these results suggest that those with feelings of ostracism are not more likely to form PSRs and that PSRs do not compensate for lack of real-life social interaction.
Mitchell, Kaitlin M., "The Relationship Between Parasocial Relationships and Chronic Ostracism Among Differing Belongingness Needs" (2021). Undergraduate Research Awards. 58.