RESEARCH INTO INTENSE FANDOM- CELEBRITY WORSHIP

  There has been a wealth of research into trying to explain why individuals become “obsessed” with celebrities. The phenomenon has only increased with the availability of technology. McCutchen devised the CAS scale (2002) in order to assess individual’s obsessive behaviour with celebrities- the scale has been used by most researchers. With the lower scores indicating individualistic behaviour such as reading about a celebrity and higher scores with over identification. DEFINITION OF EXTREME FANDOM: Obsession with a celebrity that becomes part of your daily life and is seen as obsessive.

McCutchen proposed the ABSORPTION ADDICTION MODEL.  People who lack personal identity become absorbed with a celebrity in an attempt to establish themselves. The absorption is pleasurable for the fans and can become addictive in order to sustain satisfaction with the parasocial relationship they have developed with the celebrity. Up to the point where individuals go further and further until it becomes celebrity worship. Although McCutchen explains that it never goes beyond admiration. THESE ARE THE THREE LEVELS: GILES AND MALTBY

ENTERTAINMENT SOCIAL- This is the least severe type of celebrity worship. Individuals show a tendency to be attracted to the celebrity, but only for entertainment purposes such as talking with friends. INTENSE-PERSONAL- Fans show compulsive and intense behaviour towards their favourite celebrity. E.g. being obsessed with the details of the celebrity’s life. BORDERLINE-PATHOLOGICAL- This is the most extreme form of celebrity worship. Fans start to have irrational and incontrollable behaviours towards their favourite celebrity. It is also known as EROTOMANIAC OBSESSION. CELEBRITY WORSHIP AS ABNORMAL: MALTBY (2005) - Used CAS (Celebrity attraction scale) and found that women are more prone to celebrity worship with celebrities whose body they admire. This links to research on media exposure correlating to eating disorders e.g anorexia. No relationship was found for males. EYSENCK PERSONALITY TRAITS:  Maltby et al (2003) used the EPG to assess the relationship between the level of celebrity worship and personality. The found that the entertainment social was linked with EXTRAVERSION. Intense personal with NEUROTICISM and Pathological with PSYCHOTICISM. So it shows that individuals with certain personality traits are more prone to exhibit different levels of celebrity worship (links to mental health).

IS CELEBRITY WORSHIP PATHOLOGICAL? KEY STUDY Maltby et al 2001 HYPOTHESIS: Celebrity worship is correlated to poor psychological well being. Procedure: They gave the CAS and GHQ (General Health Questionnaire) to an opportunity sample of 126 men and 181 women from South Yorkshire. Findings: Scores on the entertainment social scale correlated positively with anxiety etc. Scores on the intense positively and borderline pathological also correlated positively. Maltby et al concluded that the relationship between celebrity worship and poorer psychological wellbeing is the result of (failed) attempts to escape cope or enhance the individual’s daily life. Supports the theory that celebrity worship links to mental health. METHOLOGICAL ISSUES: The use of the GHQ to measure psychological wellbeing. This measure is designed for non-clinical population, doesn’t cover the mental health issues.

Other issues: Could have been order effects when completing the questionnaires.

EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE       As human beings we possess an interest in novelty, this is known as NEOPHILIA. Our ancestors had to amuse each other in order to select a potential mate. This explains the development of creative gifts such as music, art etc (Miller 2000) We are drone to those with creative skills and since they are advertised all around us it makes our attraction to them even bigger. The exchange of social info. About group members may have been adaptive for our ancestors. This is now known as “gossip”. SUPPORT: Shiraishi (2006)- Found that some people which produce a certain type of enzyme have higher scored of novelty seeking, which suggests a genetic origin for neophilia. Negative: Could be seen as reductionist, it is also hard to assess something that happened centuries ago. Could also be seen as deterministic.

BENEFITS OF CELEBRITY WORSHIP  Although it is commonly though that parasocial relationships with celebrities are dysfunctional there is research that does not support this.  SCHIAPPA et al 2007 – Meta analysis found that loneliness did not originate from parasocial relationships.  Sood and Rogers 2000- People who are socially active and motivated are more likely to engage in parasocial relationships.  Perse and Rubins 1989- Studied soap opera characters and found that people who were actually exposed to them saw a reduction in uncertainty regarding social relationships.  Maltby et al also suggest that sharing info via internet could promote productive social relationships and could serve as a buffer against everyday stressors.

Overall most research conducted uses self report techniques and questionnaires meaning that the findings could be affected by the participants not being realistic. Also assessing mental health through questionnaires is highly unlikely to be completely accurate.

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