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411

British Journal of Psychology (2004), 95, 411–428


q 2004 The British Psychological Society
www.bps.org.uk

Personality and coping: A context for examining


celebrity worship and mental health

John Maltby1*, Liza Day2, Lynn E. McCutcheon3, Raphael Gillett1,


James Houran4,5 and Diane D. Ashe6
1
University of Leicester, UK
2
Sheffield Hallam University, UK
3
DeVry University, Orlando, USA
4
TrueBeginnings LLC, Westlake, USA
5
Integrated Knowledge Systems, Grapevine, USA
6
Private practice, Orlando, USA

The adaptational-continuum model of personality and coping suggests a useful context


for research areas that emphasize both personality and coping. The present paper used
Ferguson’s (2001) model integrating personality and coping factors to further
conceptualize findings around celebrity worship. Three hundred and seventy-two
respondents completed measures of celebrity worship, personality, coping style,
general health, stress, positive and negative affect and life satisfaction. Celebrity worship
for intense-personal reasons is associated with poorer mental heath and this
relationship can be understood within the dimensions of neuroticism and a coping style
that suggests disengagement. Such findings suggest the utility of examining the
relationship between celebrity worship and mental health within both personality and
coping variables, which have practical implications for understanding and addressing
mental health problems that may occur as the result of engaging in celebrity worship for
intense-personal reasons.

Not only is there growing interest in celebrities in terms of fans and media coverage, but
there is also growing evidence to suggest that celebrity worship may be of interest to
psychologists. The phenomenon occurs more in adolescents or young adults than older
persons (Ashe & McCutcheon, 2001; Giles, 2002; Larsen, 1995), celebrity worshippers
are more likely to value a ‘game-playing’ love style (McCutcheon, Lange, & Houran,
2002), and celebrity worship shares a negative association with some aspects of
religiosity (Maltby, Houran, Lange, Ashe, & McCutcheon, 2002). However, celebrity
worship does not appear to be related to authoritarianism (Maltby & McCutcheon,

* Correspondence should be addressed to John Maltby, School of Psychology, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester
LE1 7RH, UK (e-mail: jm148@le.ac.uk).
412 John Maltby et al.

2001) and at best is only very weakly associated with shyness or loneliness (Ashe &
McCutcheon, 2001).
McCutcheon et al. (2002) proposed an ‘absorption– addiction’ model to explain
such cases of celebrity worship. According to this model, a compromised identity
structure in some individuals facilitates psychological absorption with a celebrity in an
attempt to establish an identity and a sense of fulfilment. The dynamics of the
motivational forces driving this absorption might, in turn, take on an addictive
component, leading to more extreme (and perhaps delusional) behaviours to sustain the
individual’s satisfaction with the parasocial relationship. Several studies based on the
Celebrity Attitude Scale (Maltby, McCutcheon, Ashe, & Houran, 2001; Maltby et al.,
2002; McCutcheon et al., 2002) are consistent with this proposed model and suggest
that there are three increasingly extreme sets of attitudes and behaviours associated
with celebrity worship. Low levels of celebrity worship have entertainment– social
value and comprise attitudes and behaviours like ‘My friends and I like to discuss what
my favourite celebrity has done’ and ‘Learning the life story of my favourite celebrity is a
lot of fun’. This stage reflects social aspects to celebrity worship and is consistent with
Stever’s (1991) observation that fans are attracted to a favourite celebrity because of
their perceived ability to entertain and capture our attention. Intermediate levels of
celebrity worship, by contrast, are characterized by more intense – personal feelings,
defined by items like ‘I consider my favourite celebrity to be my soul mate,’ and ‘I have
frequent thoughts about my celebrity, even when I don’t want to’. This stage arguably
reflects individuals’ intensive and compulsive feelings about the celebrity, akin to the
obsessional tendencies of fans often referred to in the literature (Dietz et al., 1991; Giles,
2000). The most extreme expression of celebrity worship is labelled borderline–
pathological, as exemplified by items like. ‘If someone gave me several thousand dollars
(pounds) to do with as I please, I would consider spending it on a personal possession
(like a napkin or paper plate) once used by my favourite celebrity’ and ‘If I were lucky
enough to meet my favourite celebrity, and he/she asked me to do something illegal as a
favour I would probably do it’. This factor is thought to reflect an individual’s social-
pathological attitudes and behaviours that are held as a result of worshiping a celebrity.
At present there is no longitudinal evidence that celebrity worship evolves through a
number of stages as proposed by McCutcheon et al. (2002). Rather, the existence of an
evolution of celebrity worship was inferred from the fact that the attitudes and
behaviours defining the concept of celebrity worship as measured by the Celebrity
Attitude Scale (McCutcheon et al., 2002) conformed to a probabilistic Rasch (1960/1980)
hierarchy. To be sure, this does not merely imply that some experiences occur more or
less frequently than do others. Rather, the fit of the probabilistic Rasch (1960/1980)
scaling models that were used in McCutcheon et al. (2002) indicate that rare (more
extreme) expressions of celebrity worship tend to occur only when more common (less
extreme) expressions of celebrity worship occur as well. As such, to understand some
aspects of celebrity worship, particularly within aspects of relatively stable aspects of
personality and trait coping, it may be necessary to set aside some of the assumptions of
development that lay behind the absorption –addiction model and consider the
dimensions of celebrity worship within possible competing models of behaviour.
Moreover, researchers have examined the relationship between celebrity worship
and models of self-reported mental health and personality in a UK adult sample
(N ¼ 307; aged 18– 48 years) and found evidence to suggest that celebrity worship is
significantly related to poorer psychological well-being (Maltby et al., 2001). Specifically,
the Entertainment – Social subscale of the Celebrity Attitude Scale accounted for unique
Personality and coping 413

variance in social dysfunction and depressive symptoms, whereas the Intense –Personal
subscale accounted for unique variance in depression and anxiety scores. These authors
speculated that the positive relationship between celebrity worship and poorer
psychological well-being results from (failed) attempts to escape, cope with or enhance
one’s daily life.
Further, Maltby, Houran, and McCutcheon (2003) have found evidence among UK
university students (N ¼ 317; aged 18– 27 years) and adults (N ¼ 290; aged 22– 60
years) that the three dimensions of celebrity worship may parallel the three dimensions
of Eysenckian personality theory (H. Eysenck & Eysenck, 1985): extraversion,
neuroticism and psychoticism. That is, the Entertainment – Social factor of the Celebrity
Attitude Scale reflects some of the extraversion personality traits (sociable, lively, active,
venturesome), that the Intense – Personal factor of the Celebrity Attitude Scale reflects
some of the neuroticism traits (tense, emotional, moody), and that some of the acts
described in the Borderline –Pathological subscale of the Celebrity Attitude Scale seem
to reflect some of the psychoticism traits (impulsive, anti-social, ego-centric).
The consideration of personality factors in mental health has been well established.
Using the three-factor models of personality (Costa & McCrae, 1992; H. Eysenck &
Eysenck, 1985), research suggests that foremost, neuroticism, among clinical and non-
clinical samples, is associated with poorer mental health; including negative affect
(Bagby & Rector, 1998; Hull, Tedlie, & Lehn, 1995; Larsen, 1992), anxiety (Cox, Borger,
Taylor, Fuentes, & Ross, 1999; Gershuny, Sher, Bossy, & Bishop, 2000; Maltby, Lewis, &
Hill, 1998; Matthews, Sakolfske, Costa, Deary, & Zeidner, 1998) a dispositional factor for
depression (Saklofske, Kelly, & Janzen, 1995), severity of depression (Peterson,
Bottonario, Alpert, Fava, & Nierenberg, 2001) and correlated with depressive symptoms
(Bagby, Parker, & Joffe, 1993; Compton, 1998; Costa & McCrae, 1980; Maltby et al.,
1998). Further, within the three-factor model there is evidence to suggest that
extraversion is related to subjective well-being, happiness, positive effect and optimistic
traits, and psychoticism is thought to represent some emotional disturbance (Costa &
McCrae, 1980; H. Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975). Therefore, given that there is some
evidence to suggest that celebrity worship is significantly related to each aspect of
Eysenck’s personality dimensions among UK samples, the area of personality and mental
health might provide a useful context for understanding the relationship between
celebrity worship and mental health.
There has been literature that has tried to establish higher order models for
understanding construct space and possible theoretical overlaps between constructs.
There is research that suggests examining higher order constructs among personality,
interests and knowledge to provide a comprehensive understanding and basis for
further developments in adult intellect (Ackerman, 1996, 1997; Beier & Ackerman,
2003). Similarly, higher order constructs have been used to understand which
underlying constructs are the strongest predictors in health variables (Deary, Clyde, &
Frier, 1997; Vassend & Skrondal, 1999). One particularly recent finding used a similar
approach (Ferguson, 2001). Measures of Eysenck’s personality dimensions were
administered alongside coping measures that provide a useful context to understanding
not only personality factors, but also coping strategies that underpin the relationship
between celebrity worship and mental health. In response to a growing literature on the
association between personality and coping (e.g. Suls, David, & Harvey, 1996), as part of
an adaptational continuum in which there are structural similarities between the two
concepts (Costa, Somerfield, & McCrae, 1996; Ferguson, 2001; Watson & Hubbard,
1996), Ferguson (2001) provides a factor analysis of the subscales contained within
414 John Maltby et al.

Eysenck’s Personality Questionnaire-Revised (H. Eysenck, Barrett, Wilson, & Jackson,


1992; S. Eysenck, Eysenck, & Barrett, 1985) and the COPE scale (Carver, Scheier, &
Weintraub, 1989). In this analysis, Ferguson identified four factors; problem-focused
coping (suppression, active coping, planning, restraint coping, acceptance, positive
reinterpretation and growth), NI-COPE (neuroticism, denial, behavioural disengage-
ment, mental disengagement and a low negative loading of extraversion), P-COPE
(psychoticism, turning to religion, drug and alcohol use, and negative loading of turning
to religion coping style) and E-COPE (extraversion, emotional social support,
instrumental social support and focus on and venting of emotions).
As such, these findings integrate personality and coping theory, and given the strong
theoretical and empirical support that personality and coping factors underlie mental
health (Carver et al., 1989; H. Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975; Hull et al., 1995; Lazarus &
Folkman, 1984), the adaptational-continuum personality –coping model may provide an
adequate theoretical context for understanding the relationship between aspects of
celebrity worship and mental health. More specifically, Fig. 1 demonstrates the
hypothesized relationships among the three domains, celebrity worship, adaptational-
continuum personality –coping model and mental health. Within Fig. 1, there are clear
models that can be tested. The first is that any relationship between celebrity worship
for entertainment –social reasons and mental health is mediated by the extraversion –
coping factor. The second is that any relationship between celebrity worship for
intense– personal reasons and mental health is mediated by the neuroticism – coping
factor. The third is that any relationship between borderline – pathological celebrity
worship and mental health is mediated by the psychoticism – coping factor. The aim of
the present study was to examine the relationship between celebrity worship and
mental health, within the context of an adaptational-continuum personality – coping
model by testing the three models outlined above.

Method
Sample
The sample consisted of 372 respondents (182 males, 190 females) aged between 18
and 47 years ðM ¼ 34:22; SD ¼ 5:4Þ sampled from a number of workplaces and
community groups in the north of England. Participants were selected from those
willing to be respondents from the workplaces and community groups visited.

Figure 1. Proposed mediation models of the relationship between celebrity worship, personality –
coping and mental health.
Personality and coping 415

No exclusions were made in regards to criteria such as mental health history or current
treatment for mental health problems. Among this sample the most often reported
demographic was White ðn ¼ 264Þ; married ðn ¼ 176Þ; employed ðn ¼ 210Þ;
most reported leaving school with the equivalent of an education with at least 1
‘O’-level/GCSE ðn ¼ 119Þ:

Scales administered
Respondents were administered the following measures:

(1) Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS; McCutcheon et al., 2002). Originally termed the
Celebrity Worship Scale, this instrument is a 34-item Likert-type scale in which
respondents are asked to indicate their attitude towards a favourite celebrity (that
they themselves have named) using a number of items that use a response format
‘strongly agree’ equal to 5 and ‘strongly disagree’ equal to 1. However, from
analyses reported in Maltby et al. (2002, 2003), among UK samples, three
‘subscales’ were formed from 22 of the items; Entertainment – Social (10 items; e.g.
‘My friends and I like to discuss what my favourite celebrity has done’, item 5);
Intense –Personal (9 items; ‘I share with my favourite celebrity a special bond that
cannot be described in words’, item 2), and Borderline –Pathological (3 items; ‘If I
were lucky enough to meet my favourite celebrity, and he/she asked me to do
something illegal as a favour, I would probably do it’, item 22). In the present study,
this 22-item measure was used.
(2) Abbreviated form of the Revised Eysenck Personality Questionnaire ( Francis,
Brown, & Philipchalk, 1992). This questionnaire contains 6-item measures of
extraversion, neuroticism, psychoticism and lie scores. The scale has been
subjected to exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses that suggest the
unidimensionality of the four EPQR-A subscales of Extraversion, Neuroticism,
Psychoticism and the Lie Scale (Forrest, Lewis, & Shevlin, 2000). Construct validity
can been be found for this version of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire in
terms of predicted relationships with psychological well-being, affect, religiosity,
cognitive tasks and sex roles (Chang, 1997; Cooper & Taylor, 1999; Francis &
Bolger, 1997; Lewis & Maltby, 1995; Shevlin, Bailey, & Adamson, 2002).
(3) The COPE Checklist (Carver et al., 1989) with additional scales suggested by
Johnston, Wright, and Weinman (1995), as used by Ferguson (2001). The COPE
contains fifteen 4-item subscales; Suppression, Active Coping, Planning, Restraint
Coping, Acceptance, Positive Reinterpretation, Behavioural Disengagement,
Denial, Mental Disengagement, Emotional Social Support, Instrumental Social
Support, Focus on and Venting, Humour, Turning to Religion and Alcohol and
Drug Use. Among the present sample the COPE was used in its trait form, in which
respondents are asked how they typically react to stressful events. Each of the
subscales show adequate psychometric properties, demonstrating internal
reliability, test –retest reliability and evidence of discriminant, concurrent and
convergent validity, with expected relationships with constructs such as
psychological well-being, optimism, control, and self-esteem (Carver et al., 1989;
Johnston et al., 1995).
(4) Life Satisfaction Scale (Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin, 1985). This is a 5-item
scale used to measure cognitive statements relating to individuals’ lives (e.g. ‘I am
satisfied with my life’, item 3). The scale demonstrates adequate internal reliability
416 John Maltby et al.

and validity in terms of its relationship with other measures of subjective


well-being and emotional well-being measures (Pavot & Diener, 1993).
(5) The General Health Questionnaire – 28 (GHQ; Goldberg & Williams, 1991). Each
of these scales comprise 7-item measures of depressive symptoms (e.g. ‘Felt that
life is entirely hopeless’, item 23), anxiety symptoms (e.g. ‘Been getting scared or
panicky for no good reason’, item 12), social dysfunction (e.g. ‘Been taking longer
over the things you do’, item 16) and somatic symptoms (e.g. ‘Been feeling run
down and out of sorts’, item 3). The scale demonstrates satisfactory reliability and
validity across a number of samples (Goldberg & Williams, 1991).
(6) Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983). This is a 10-item
scale measuring thoughts and feeling during the last month about the extent to
which an individual might be finding life stressful (e.g. ‘In the last month, how
often have you felt that you were on top of things’, item 8). The scales’ reliability
and validity is supported by its relationship with other stress measures, self-
reported health, health behaviours and help seeking behaviour (Cohen &
Williamson, 1988).
(7) Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988).
This 20-item scale assesses positive (e.g. ‘strong’) and negative (e.g. ‘jittery’)
emotional responses by the individual to cope with events. The scales have good
reliability and are correlated with other indicators of affect (Watson et al., 1988).
The particular mental health measures chosen for the study were arbitrary, however, the
GHQ was used because the only study on celebrity worship and mental health (Maltby
et al., 2001) used the GHQ, and this was therefore included for purpose of replication of
previous findings with depression, anxiety, somatic symptoms and social dysfunction.
Similarly, other measures were included to extend on previous findings and were chosen
as they measure recognized and well-researched dimensions of positive and negative
aspects of mental health, stress, life satisfaction, positive affect and negative affect.

Results
The relationships between each of the demographic variables and the celebrity worship
scales were examined to test for any possible confounding variables.
First, it may be that age influences celebrity worship, as interest in celebrities may
wane with age. However, no significant relationship was found between age and
celebrity worship for entertainment – social reasons ðr ¼ :01; p . :05Þ; celebrity
worship for intense –personal reasons ðr ¼ 2:04; p . :05Þ; and borderline – patho-
logical celebrity worship ðr ¼ :03; p . :05Þ:
Second, it is possible that education may influence celebrity worship as people with
a higher level of education may not be as enamoured with celebrities. However, no
significant relationship was found between education level (scored as 1 ¼ no
qualification, 2 ¼ ‘O’-level/GCSE or equivalent, 3 ¼ ‘A’-level or equivalent,
4 ¼ Attended college, 5 ¼ Degree, 6 ¼ Postgraduate qualification) and celebrity
worship for entertainment – social reasons ðr ¼ :03; p . :05Þ; celebrity worship for
intense– personal reasons ðr ¼ 2:01; p . :05Þ; and borderline –pathological celebrity
worship ðr ¼ :03; p . :05Þ:
Finally, it might be that people who are employed, and people who are married, may
be less interested in celebrities, as they have less time to devote to celebrities. Table 1
Personality and coping 417

Table 1. Mean comparisons (SD) of all the scales by employment and marital status

Employed Unemployed Married Not married


Scale ðn ¼ 210Þ ðn ¼ 162Þ t ðn ¼ 176Þ ðn ¼ 196Þ t

CAS-Entertainment – Social 21.46 (8.0) 21.73 (7.8) 2 .27 21.68 (8.2) 21.28 (7.7) .48
CAS-Intense – Personal 15.74 (5.7) 15.66 (5.7) .12 15.97 (5.9) 16.21 (6.0) 2.39
CAS-Borderline– Pathological 4.40 (1.5) 4.74 (2.3) 2 1.54 4.32 (1.6) 4.65 (2.0) 21.78

CAS, Celebrity Attitude Scale.


* p , :05; ** p , :01; *** p , :001:
shows the mean scores and standard deviations of all the celebrity worship scales by
employment and marital status. No significant difference for employment or marital
status was found for scores on any of the celebrity worship.
Table 2 shows the mean scores and standard deviations of all the scales by sex.
Among the present sample, females scored significantly higher than males on

Table 2. Mean scores (SD) and alpha coefficients of all the scales by sex

Scale a Males ðn ¼ 182Þ Females ðn ¼ 190Þ t

CAS-Entertainment – Social .88 22.15 (8.0) 20.82 (7.8) 1.62


CAS-Intense – personal .85 16.13 (6.1) 16.07 (5.9) .09
CAS-Borderline– Pathological .73 4.83 (2.1) 4.18 (1.4) 3.56 ***
Neuroticism .76 2.55 (2.0) 3.16 (1.9) 2 2.95 **
Extraversion .78 3.62 (2.0) 3.84 (2.0) 2 1.06
Psychoticism .65 2.90 (1.8) 2.20 (1.7) 3.79 ***
Suppression .88 10.72 (3.4) 10.81 (3.1) 2 .27
Active Coping .90 10.43 (3.3) 11.03 (3.1) 2 1.80
Planning .84 10.55 (3.3) 10.98 (3.3) 2 1.27
Restraint Coping .84 10.63 (3.2) 10.72 (3.2) 2 .28
Acceptance .80 10.31 (3.3) 11.08 (3.1) 2 2.35 *
Positive Reinterpretation .90 10.62 (3.4) 10.79 (3.3) 2 .50
Behavioural Disengagement .80 9.42 (2.5) 9.52 (2.5) 2 .38
Denial .76 9.29 (2.4) 9.99 (2.6) 2 2.70 **
Mental Disengagement .69 9.70 (2.4) 9.71 (2.3) 2 .03
Emotional Social Support .70 9.63 (2.3) 9.82 (2.1) 2 .85
Instrumental Social Support .71 10.03 (2.3) 10.17 (2.3) 2 .62
Focus on and Venting of Emotion .72 9.74 (2.5) 9.74 (2.3) 2 . 01
Humour .76 9.57 (2.4) 9.39 (2.4) .32
Turning to Religion .80 8.21 (2.3) 8.45 (2.2) 2 1.01
Alcohol and Drug Use .64 9.04 (2.3) 8.75 (2.2) 1.24
Depression .69 8.93 (2.2) 9.12 (2.5) .60
Anxiety .70 8.27 (1.7) 8.12 (1.7) 2 1.43
Somatic Symptoms .68 8.04 (2.3) 8.75 (2.2) 2 .75
Social Dysfunction .73 7.95 (1.5) 8.20 (1.9) .86
Perceived Stress .91 13.02 (9.2) 13.26 (9.5) 2 .25
Positive Affect .92 31.24 (9.2) 32.16 (9.1) 2 .98
Negative Affect .90 24.37 (9.1) 24.11 (9.0) .28
Life Satisfaction .88 23.23 (7.6) 23.40 (7.4) 2 .22

* p , :05; ** p , :01; *** p , :001:


418 John Maltby et al.

neuroticism, denial and acceptance, and males scored significantly higher than females
on psychoticism and the pathological subscale of the CAS. In addition, Table 2 also
shows that the scales demonstrate adequate internal reliability (Cronbach, 1951) among
the present sample, perhaps with the exception of the Alcohol and Drug Use subscale of
the COPE and the psychoticism scale.
The present study is the largest non-student sample to report the use of the CAS and
no previous study using the CAS has estimated the prevalence among such a large
sample of respondents that can be classed as celebrity worshippers for entertainment –
social, intense– personal and borderline – pathological reasons. The suggested criteria
for classifying celebrity worshippers using the CAS are scores above the theoretical
mean for each subscale (Entertainment –Social, mean ¼ 30; Intense– Personal, mean ¼
27; Borderline –Pathological, mean ¼ 9). Using these criteria, 15.1% of the sample
could be classified as entertainment –social celebrity worshippers, 5.1% of the
sample could be classified as intense – personal celebrity worshippers and 1.9% of the
sample could be classified as borderline – pathological celebrity worshippers. Such
statistics need to be treated with caution as the use of the mean statistic is arbitrary, but
it provides some information on the possible prevalence of celebrity worship under
these dimensions within the UK.
The next aim of the analysis was to establish clear measurement within the three
different domains examined in the study; celebrity worship, personality –coping and
mental health. Table 3 shows principal components analysis (with components
accounting for 50.03% of the variance) within oblimin rotation of the items of the CAS,
with the number of components determined by a scree test. The resulting solution is
consistent with previous findings using the scale (Maltby et al., 2002, 2003), namely that
the items comprise three components; entertainment – social, intense – personal and
borderline –pathological. From these emerging components, factor scores were
computed for each component respectively.
Similarly, there is a need to establish those personality –coping factors that exist
among the present sample. Table 4 shows the resulting loadings of a principal
components analysis (with components accounting for 46.93% of the variance) with
oblimin rotation (with the number of components determined by a scree test) using
the measures of Eysenckian personality and COPE. The present findings largely
replicate the previous findings of Ferguson (2001). The first component to emerge
reflects problem-focused coping, with the suppression, active, planning, restraint,
acceptance and positive reinterpretation and growth coping strategies loading
positively on this component. The second is clearly a neuroticism component with
measures of denial and mental and behavioural disengagement loading positively on
this component. Previously, Ferguson found that extraversion loaded negatively and
partially (.33) on this component, suggesting aspects of introversion as important to
this component. Originally, Ferguson named this component NI-COPE, however,
following the present findings it is perhaps better named N-COPE. The third
component is also consistent with Ferguson’s findings of a P-COPE with psychoticism
loading negatively on a component alongside measures of alcohol and drug use,
humour (that also load negatively on this component) and religion (that loads
positively on this component). The final component is consistent with Ferguson’s
E-COPE factor, with extraversion dominating a component on which seeking social
support (for both instrumental and emotional reasons) and focusing on and venting
of emotions all load positively. From these emerging components, factor scores were
computed for each component.
Personality and coping 419

Table 3. Principal components analysis with oblimin rotation of the items of the celebrity attitude scale

Items 1 2 3

Entertainment – Social
My friends and I like to discuss what my favorite celebrity has done. .69 2 .05 .12
One of the main reasons I maintain an interest in my favorite celebrity .69 .10 2 .17
is that doing so gives me a temporary escape from life’s problems.
I enjoy watching, reading, or listening to my favorite celebrity because .64 2 .01 .04
it means a good time.
I love to talk with others who admire my favorite celebrity. .75 2 .05 2 .08
When something bad happens to my favorite celebrity I feel like .68 2 .04 2 .01
it happened to me.
Learning the life story of my favorite celebrity is a lot of fun. .72 .03 2 .06
It is enjoyable just to be with others who like my favorite celebrity. .67 .09 .10
When my favorite celebrity fails or loses at something I feel like a .60 .04 .03
failure myself.
I like watching and hearing about my favorite celebrity .72 2 .01 2 .01
when I am in a large group of people.
Keeping up with news about my favorite celebrity is an .70 .07 .07
entertaining pastime.
Intense – Personal
If I were to meet my favorite celebrity in person, he/she would already 2 .01 .67 .03
somehow know that I am his/her biggest fan.
I share with my favorite celebrity a special bond that cannot be 2 .02 .60 .11
described in words.
I am obsessed by details of my favorite celebrity’s life. 2 .08 .71 .06
When something good happens to my favorite celebrity I feel like 2 .06 .70 2 .05
it happened to me.
I have pictures and/or souvenirs of my favorite celebrity, which 2 .02 .67 .04
I always keep, in exactly the same place.
The successes of my favorite celebrity are my successes also. 2 .02 .75 2 .15
I consider my favorite celebrity to be my soul mate. .11 .65 2 .03
I have frequent thoughts about my favorite celebrity, even when .08 .62 .03
I don’t want to.
When my favorite celebrity dies (or died) I will feel (or I felt) 2 .06 .65 .09
like dying too.
Borderline – Pathological
I often feel compelled to learn the personal habits of my 2 .02 2 .02 .82
favorite celebrity.
If I was lucky enough to meet my favorite celebrity, and he/she asked .03 .13 .75
me to do something illegal as a favor, I would probably do it.
If someone gave me several thousand dollars to do with as .02 2 .04 .81
I please, I would consider spending it on a personal possession
(like a napkin or paper plate) once used by my favorite celebrity.

Note. Loadings on the component above .44 are in bold.

Finally, to clearly identify factors among the mental health measures, all the mental
health measures (depression, anxiety, somatic symptoms, social dysfunction, positive
affect, negative affect, perceived stress and life satisfaction) were subjected to a
principal components analysis with oblimin rotation, with the number of components
determined by a scree test (see Table 5). The resulting solution accounted for 63.70% of
420 John Maltby et al.

Table 4. Principal components analysis with oblimin rotation of the personality and coping measures

Scale 1 2 3 4

Neuroticism .10 .80 2 .07 2 .04


Extraversion 2.06 2 .01 .03 .73
Psychoticism .06 .05 2 .67 2 .17
Suppression .79 2 .06 .05 2 .02
Active Coping .81 2 .01 .06 2 .05
Planning .81 .06 .02 .03
Restraint Coping .79 .02 2 .04 2 .09
Acceptance .80 .05 .05 .02
Positive Reinterpretation .80 2 .02 2 .06 .02
Behavioural Disengagement .10 .60 .08 .03
Denial 2.01 .56 .08 .19
Mental Disengagement 2.13 .51 .03 2 .18
Emotional Social Support 2.03 .02 2 .06 .54
Instrumental Social Support .01 .02 .13 .42
Focus on and Venting .05 .08 2 .11 .56
Humour 2.04 .08 2 .62 .06
Turning to Religion 2.03 .09 .46 2 .05
Alcohol and Drug Use 2.04 2 .05 2 .60 .02

Note. Loadings on the component above .44 are in bold.

Table 5. Principal components analysis of the psychological well-being measures

Scale 1 2

Depression (GHQ) .07 .81


Anxiety (GHQ) .08 .82
Social Dysfunction (GHQ) .18 .54
Somatic Symptoms (GHQ) 2 .14 .62
Satisfaction with Life 2 .92 2.03
Positive Affect 2 .87 .08
Negative Affect .82 .12
Perceived Stress .90 .01

GHQ, General Health Questionnaire.


Note. Loadings on the component above .44 are in bold.

the variance and the solution showed two clear components emerging from the
analysis. The first component comprises the measures of satisfaction with life, positive
affect, negative affect, perceived stress (with the satisfaction of life and positive affect
measures loading negatively on this component). This component is probably best
labelled as a ‘negative affect’ component, with higher scores on this factor indicating
higher levels of negative affect. The second component comprises all the measures from
the GHQ (depression, anxiety, somatic symptoms and social dysfunction). As previous
research has suggested that the GHQ may comprise one element (Goldberg & Williams,
1991), this finding is consistent with previous findings using this scale, and this factor
was labelled as ‘general mental health’, with higher scores on this factor indicating
poorer levels of reported general mental health.
Personality and coping 421

Table 6. Pearson product moment correlation coefficients between factors scores for the three
domains, celebrity worship, personality – coping and mental health

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

1. Entertainment – 1.00 .01 .13* .04 2 .03 2.03 .29*** 2.10 .03
social factor
score
2. Intense – personal 1.00 .24*** 2.03 .33*** 2.04 2 .01 .23*** .22**
factor score
3. Borderline– 1.00 .06 .03 2.31**1 2 .03 .10 .09
pathological
factor score
4. Problem-focused 1.00 .01 .02 .02 2.24*** 2 .36***
factor score
5. N-COPE factor 1.00 .03 2 .03 .30*** .33***
score
6. P-COPE factor 1.00 .01 2.08 2 .10
score
7. E-COPE factor 1.00 2.20*** .01
score
8. Negative affect 1.00 .35**
factor score
9. General mental 1.00
health factor
score
1
Note this is negatively correlated because psychoticism loads negatively on the original principal
components analysis (Table 4).
* p , :05; ** p , :01; *** p , :001:

Table 6 shows the zero-order correlations between the factor scores computed for
each of the theoretical domains (celebrity worship, personality – coping and mental
health). One validity check of the present findings is to examine the relationships
between the personality – coping and the mental health factors. The findings that
negative affect and the general mental health factor scores share significant negative
association with the problem-focused coping factor scores and positive association with
the N-COPE factor scores are consistent with previous findings that problem-focused
coping is significantly associated with better mental health (Carver et al., 1989) and
neuroticism is associated with poorer mental health (H. Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975).
Moreover, the E-COPE factor was significantly negatively related to the negative
affect scale. Within Eysenckian theory, extraversion is positively associated with
attitudes and behaviours reflecting a positive affect, including happiness, optimism and
cheerfulness, whereas neuroticism is usually found to be associated with aspects of
negative affect, such as depression and anxiety (H. Eysenck & Eysenck, 1985).
Therefore, it is consistent with theory to find that the E-COPE factor is significantly
related to the factor that contains the positive affect and satisfaction with life scales.
Together these results suggest consistency of the present findings to general theory and
research surrounding personality, coping and mental health.
In terms of the relationship between celebrity worship and the other domains, the
present findings are consistent with previous findings (Maltby et al., 2003) that the three
different aspects of celebrity worship (entertainment – social, intense – personal and
422 John Maltby et al.

borderline – pathological) are reflected in Eysenck’s three personality dimensions


(extraversion, neuroticism and psychoticism, respectively). However, in terms of the
relationship between celebrity worship and mental health, only celebrity worship for
intense– personal reasons is significantly related to mental health. This is only partly
consistent with the findings of Maltby et al. (2001) who found that not only was
celebrity worship for intense – personal reasons significantly related to depression and
anxiety, but celebrity worship for entertainment – social reasons was also significantly
related to social dysfunction and depressive symptoms. As such, the present findings
cast doubt on the generalizability of previous findings of a relationship between
celebrity worship for entertainment –social reasons and mental health.
The finding that it is only celebrity worship for intense –personal reasons that is
related to mental health suggests that only the second of the three a priori models
presented can be tested (Fig. 1). This model suggets that the relationship between
celebrity worship for intense – personal reasons and mental health is mediated by the
neuroticism – coping (N-COPE) factor.
It is possible to test such a model. However, a statistical test of the model is a
necessary but not sufficient condition for mediation (Kenny, Kashy, & Bolger, 1998). It is
also necessary to show that the mediator (N-COPE; neuroticism –coping) either
temporally or, in present consideration, conceptually precedes negative effect and
general mental health. There is a wealth of evidence which suggests that, both
conceptually and empirically, neuroticism and the coping variables (denial and mental
and behavioural disengagement) are thought to be crucial preceding factors to a range
of mental health variables.
Theoretically, both personality traits (with an emphasis on stable and enduring
aspects of individuals and with some origin in biological psychology) and coping (with
an emphasis on psychological mechanisms or resources that seek to address stressful
situations) are described as influential factors in mental health (H. Eysenck & Eysenck,
1975; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Lazarus & Smith, 1988) Further, there is strong
empirical evidence to support the view that personality, and particularly neuroticism,
and coping are strong predictors of mental health variables (Carver et al., 1989;
Hull et al., 1995). Therefore, there is a strong argument to suggest that neuroticism –
coping conceptually precedes negative effect and general mental health and any
statistical testing will examine whether neuroticism – coping mediates the proposed
relationships between the variables.
The essential statistical steps to establish that variable M mediates the effect of
variable X on variable Y are, first, to determine the standardized coefficient a (and
standard error sa) in a linear regression of X on M and, second, to determine the
standardized coefficient b (and standard error sb ) of M in a multiple regression of Y on X
and M (Kenny et al., 1998). The product ab of the path coefficients represents the
mediation effect. A direct, approximate z-test of the hypothesis that the mediation effect
ab is greater than zero is provided by Baron and Kenny (1986). Applying the procedure
to the factor scores, we find that N-COPE factor mediates both the effect of celebrity
worship for intense – personal reasons on general mental health ðab ¼ :095;
z ¼ 4:26; p , :00001Þ and the effect of celebrity worship for intense –personal
reasons on negative affect ðab ¼ :082; z ¼ 3:86; p , :0001Þ:
After allowing for the mediating influence of neuroticism – coping, the direct effect
of celebrity worship for intense –personal reasons on general mental health has a
residual path coefficient of .123 ðt ¼ 2:38; p , :02Þ; and the direct effect of celebrity
worship for intense –personal reasons on negative affect has a residual path coefficient
Personality and coping 423

of .157 ðt ¼ 3:02; p , :003Þ: Because both t-tests are significant, it is evident that
neuroticism – coping does not completely mediate the effect of celebrity worship for
intense– personal reasons on general mental health and negative affect.

Discussion
The establishment of such a structural context within which to examine relationships
between constructs and understand them within a higher order factor space has been
influential in understanding adult intellect and health variables (Ackerman, 1996, 1997;
Beier & Ackerman, 2003; Deary et al., 1997; Vassend & Skrondal, 1999). The present
study examined the relationship between celebrity worship and mental health within
the context of an adaptational-continuum model of personality and coping.
The first finding is the replicable component structure of the Ferguson (2001) model
of personality and coping and the components of this model in relation to mental health.
The component structure of the personality – coping measures in which problem-
focused coping, N-COPE, E-COPE and P-COPE components were established, are largely
consistent with Ferguson’s (2001) findings. One point not raised by Ferguson is the lack
of a relationship between problem-focused coping and any of the personality variables.
The present findings suggest that problem-focused coping can be considered out of
Eysenck personality space, and the examination of this variable to other personality
variables (e.g. five factor variables) may prove useful to integrating this factor fully
within a personality –coping model.
Additionally, the findings between the personality –coping factors and mental health
factors suggest that the present findings can be treated with some confidence. Problem-
focused coping is associated with better mental health, whereas neuroticism (albeit a
neuroticism factor) is related to poorer mental health. These findings are consistent with
wider personality, coping and mental health literature (Carver et al., 1989; H. Eysenck &
Eysenck, 1985). Further, the relationship between the factors of adaptational-continuum
model of personality using Eysenck’s personality and the COPE measure and measures
of mental health have not been reported before. As such, these findings alone present
new data providing support for Ferguson’s (2001) reported model of this version of an
adaptational-continuum model of personality.
The second finding regards the relationship between the celebrity worship
dimensions and the personality – coping dimensions. As predicted, and consistent with
previous findings regarding celebrity worship and personality (Maltby et al., 2003),
celebrity worship for entertainment – social reasons is positively related to extraver-
sion –coping, celebrity worship for intense –personal reasons is positively related to
neurotic – coping, and borderline – pathological celebrity worship is positively related to
psychoticism – coping. These findings suggest that: (i) celebrity worshippers who do so
for entertainment – social reasons are extraverted, seek information and support, and are
able to display emotions; (ii) celebrity worshippers who do so for intense –personal
reasons are neurotic, use denial, and mental and behavioural disengagement; and
(iii) celebrity worshippers who are borderline – pathological demonstrate social –
pathological, use a sense of humour to cope, use drink and drugs and are not religious.
In terms of mental health consequences of these behaviours, it is only one aspect of
celebrity worship dimension that is significantly related to mental health. On both
health dimensions identified in the present study, celebrity worship for intense–
personal reasons was associated with poorer general health (depression, anxiety,
somatic symptoms, social dysfunction) and negative affect (negative affect, stress,
424 John Maltby et al.

and low positive affect and life satisfaction). Further, the path analysis suggested that the
relationship between celebrity worship for intense – personal reasons and poorer
mental health was mediated by the neuroticism – coping dimension of adaptational-
continuum model of personality and coping; which comprises the personality variable
neuroticism, and the coping mechanisms, mental disengagement, denial and
behavioural disengagement. This suggests that the relationship between celebrity
worship and poorer mental health is the result of neuroticism personality traits, and
behaviours and attitudes that suggest a disengagement and failure to acknowledge,
let alone deal with, stressful events. This relationship with these aspects of coping style
suggests that those individuals who engage in intense – personal celebrity worship do
not deal effectively with everyday events. Accordingly, we speculate that those who
intensely worship celebrities may actually spend time worshipping celebrities at the
expense of dealing with everyday events.
However, there is also evidence to suggest that the neuroticism – coping factor does
not completely mediate the effect of intense –personal celebrity worship on general
mental health and negative affect. As such, there is further opportunity to consider other
theoretical approaches that may further aid the understanding of the relationship
between intense –personality celebrity and mental health. A future consideration may
be to further examine the measurement of certain variables used in this study, such as
neuroticism. H. Eysenck, Wilson, and Jackson (2000) suggest there are seven specific
components to neuroticism (low self-esteem, unhappiness, anxiety, dependence,
hypochondria, obsessiveness and guilt) and including a longer measure of neuroticism,
than employed in the present study, alongside the measures used in this study, may
widen the present consideration. Alternatively, other theories and aspects, considered
conceptually outside personality and coping, might also add to the present
consideration. One example theory could be taken from McCutcheon et al. (2002)
who have argued that increased levels of celebrity worship may reflect an absorption or
addiction to a celebrity. Both these variables may also provide a further basis for
understanding the relationship between intense – personal celebrity worship and
poorer mental health. Consequently, such future research may try to use measures of
absorption and addiction, alongside those used in the present study, to provide a fuller
explanation of the mechanisms that provide a further context to understanding the
relationship between celebrity worship and mental health.
The other identified celebrity worship factors do not demonstrate a significant
relationship with the measures of mental health. This finding is inconsistent with
previous research suggesting that celebrity worship for entertainment – social reasons is
associated with higher levels of social dysfunction and depression. As such, the failure to
replicate findings across samples needs to be addressed and considered. However, the
present findings are from a larger UK sample than previously reported and are
considered within a wider theoretical model than previously entertained, and as such
provide confidence for the suggestion that celebrity worship for entertainment –social
reasons is not significantly related to mental health.
The prevalence of higher levels of celebrity worship among the present sample
(entertainment –social, 15%, intense – personal, 5% and borderline –pathological, 1%)
and an absence of a significant relationship between the entertainment – social and
borderline – pathological aspects celebrity worship and mental health suggest that, like
many attitudes and behaviours, celebrity worship should not be a concern when carried
out in moderation. However, for those individuals who worship celebrities for intense–
personal reasons, there may be consequences for individual mental health. Within the
Personality and coping 425

present study, 5% of respondents could be considered as showing high levels of


intense– personal dimensions to their celebrity worship, and as such suggest that some
of the population may be at risk from the way they consider and focus on their
celebrities. Therefore, it may be necessary to begin to speculate how it may be possible
to intervene when celebrity worship takes on intense– personal characteristics to a
point of concern. The present findings inform this issue. For example, those who
engage in intense –personal forms of celebrity worship are characterized as tense,
emotional and moody (neuroticism). They deal with stress by disengaging (both
mentally and behavioural) and by living in a state of denial. Such a description suggests
that an intense –personal celebrity worshipper is very emotional, tense and tends to
withdraw from the world. As a result, individuals who demonstrate a worrying level of
intense– personal celebrity worship and who suffer from mental health problems might
be best helped by understanding and addressing their emotionality. Further, they should
likely be encouraged to stop withdrawing and disengaging from stressful situations.
However, such interventions need to be considered properly within future research.
As such, this integration of personality –coping variables allows the simplification of
the literature in celebrity worship, personality and mental health, and begins to direct
future research to work within the context of an adaptational-continuum model. That is,
celebrity worship for intense –personal reasons leads to poorer mental heath and this
relationship can be largely understood within the dimensions of neuroticism and coping
style that suggest disengagement with life. These findings have empirical, clinical and
practical implications and provide an important context for understanding the nature
and consequences of celebrity worship.

Acknowledgement
We are greatly appreciative of the invaluable advice offered by the anonymous referees on earlier
versions of the article.

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Received 17 June 2002; revised version received 22 September 2003