The Effects of Celebrity Silence Breakers: Liking and Parasocial Relationship Strength Interact to Predict the Social Influence of Celebrities’ Sexual Harassment Allegations

Elizabeth L. Cohen, Jessica Gall Myrick, Cynthia A. Hoffner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Although likability and parasocial relationships (PSRs) typically go hand in hand, people can dislike media figures they are bonded to, or they can feel disconnected from media figures that they like. To examine the interplay of PSRs and liking, an experiment investigated responses to celebrities who made sexual harassment allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein. Participants were assigned to complete a liking or disliking priming task. Those who reported greater liking for the celebrity were more likely to find her allegations believable and expressed a greater willingness to report personal sexual harassment experiences. The influence of likability was reduced when PSR was stronger. The study shows that celebrity disliking can be primed, it shows the utility of examining liking and PSRs separately, and it suggests that media coverage of celebrity allegations may have inspired others to disclose sexual harassment experiences as part of the Me Too movement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)288-313
Number of pages26
JournalMass Communication and Society
Volume24
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication

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