The present study
aimed to assess the relationship between self-construal and parasocial
interaction.

 

Self-construal refers to the grounds
of self-definition, and the
extent to which the self is defined independently of others
or interdependently with others. While it is understood that everyone has both
independent and interdependent self-concepts, people tend to score more highly
on one than the other. Shweder & Bourne suggested that people of
collectivist countries such as China and Japan tend to score much higher on
interdependent self-concepts. Whereas in more individualist countries such as
America and England, people tend to score higher on independent self-concept, (Shweder &
Bourne, 1982).

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Parasocial
interaction is defined as the ‘relationship between media users and media
figures or characters’ (Jin & Park,
2009). It explains why people seem to grow a fond liking for a particular
celebrity or TV/book character. People can begin to feel as if the mediated
other is talking or acting directly towards them. Consequently, parasocial
interaction can lead people to believe that said others are their actual or
real friends, and in more extreme cases, people can believe they are in
romantic relationships with the other.

 

Jin and
Park (2009) investigated the same hypothesis as the present study, in an
avatar-based game console, Wii. It examined the effects of video game players’
self-construal on parasocial interaction with their avatars and feelings of
self-presence. The study discovered that game players with high interdependent
self-construal show closer parasocial interaction than do those with low
interdependent self-construal.

 

The
present study, is an adaptation based on the work of Jin and Park (2009).
However, in this study the experimenter used a less anthropomorphised avatar.
Nonetheless, it was hypothesised that the participants who showed a higher
self-construal were more likely to have a higher parasocial score with their
avatar, as compared with those participants who showed a low self-construal.