Title
Celebrities: from teachers to friends: a test of two hypotheses on the adaptiveness of celebrity gossip Celebrities: from teachers to friends: a test of two hypotheses on the adaptiveness of celebrity gossip
Author
Faculty/Department
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Publication type
article
Publication
Hawthorne, N.Y. ,
Subject
Sociology
Source (journal)
Human Nature. - Hawthorne, N.Y.
Volume/pages
18(2007) :4 , p. 334-354
ISSN
1045-6767
ISI
000250133400004
Carrier
E
Target language
English (eng)
Full text (Publishers DOI)
Affiliation
University of Antwerp
Abstract
Abstract In this paper we present two compatible hypotheses to explain interest in celebrity gossip. The Learning Hypothesis explains interest in celebrity gossip as a by-product of an evolved mechanism useful for acquiring fitness-relevant survival information. The Parasocial Hypothesis sees celebrity gossip as a diversion of this mechanism, which leads individuals to misperceive celebrities as people who are part of their social network. Using two preliminary studies, we tested our predictions. In a survey with 838 respondents and in-depth interviews with 103 individuals, we investigated how interest in celebrity gossip was related to several dimensions of the participants social lives. In support of the Learning Hypothesis, age proved to be a strong predictor of interest in celebrities. In partial support of the Parasocial Hypothesis, media exposure, but not social isolation, was a strong predictor of interest in celebrities. The preliminary results support both theories, indicate that across our life span celebrities move from being teachers to being friends, and open up a list of future research opportunities.
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