Date of Award

Summer 2020

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Lucas Keefer

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Donald Sacco

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Elena Stepanova

Committee Member 3 School



Previous research suggests that individuals can develop parasocial relationships, or strong emotional attachments to figures in the media. While these relationships typically only involve a one-way exchange of information (target to viewer), viewers still receive many positive benefits that are typical of friendships and other interpersonal bonds. The current literature on parasocial relationships provides detailed information on why they are formed, who forms them, and why they are useful, yet no research has investigated whether the potential for interaction between a media figure and a viewer moderates their psychological effects. We proposed that the most beneficial types of parasocial relationships are those that have the possibility for reciprocal interaction between media figure and viewer, as those relationships better approximate traditional interpersonal relationships that rely on an exchange of information. Results indicate that participants who felt more able to interact with these target figures report lower levels of state loneliness and higher levels of state self-esteem and these effects were similar to those observed for a sense of connection to the target, but these effects were seen most strongly for participants who wrote and thought about close interpersonal targets.