A penchant for the immoral: Implications of parasocial interaction, perceived complicity, and identification on liking of anti-heroes

Mary Beth Oliver, Helena Bilandzic, Jonathan Cohen, Arienne Ferchaud, Drew D. Shade, Erica J. Bailey, Chun Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study adds to existing research on liking of anti-heroes by demonstrating the importance of perceived interaction and identification on character liking. Our first experiment used a televised series (House of Cards) as the narrative context, and the second study employed a written narrative. In both experiments, versions featuring the main character speaking directly to the viewer/reader resulted in heightened feelings of perceived interaction (parasocial interaction and feelings of complicity), with these feelings predicting greater identification with the character. Further, higher levels of identification were generally associated with greater liking across levels of morality of the character. Together, these studies point to the important role of character identification as one additional means of understanding the appeal of anti-heroes. Further, these studies suggest that aspects of media presentation (i.e., breaking the fourth wall) may be consequential in predicting liking of anti-heroes in the face of perceived immorality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)169-201
Number of pages33
JournalHuman Communication Research
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Anthropology
  • Linguistics and Language

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