Title

HOW PARASOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN SPORTS FIGURES AND FANS INFLUENCE FANDOM AND PURCHASE INTENTION

Date of Award

June 2019

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Public Relations

Advisor(s)

Joon Soo Lim

Keywords

athletes, fandom, identification, parasocial interaction, purchase intention, sports

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences

Abstract

Parasocial interaction refers to the pseudo-social relationship between media personalities and media audiences who consume it. Parasocial interaction theory has evolved over the past 53 years ago to better explain the depth of the pseudo-social relationship that exists between audiences and personalities; with scholars, such as Altman and Taylor (1973), theorizing that the more people interact, the more likely they are to achieve deeper states of intimacy. This level of increased intimacy is referred to as a parasocial relationship – the theory that will be used for this study. The current research contributes to sports marketing and public relations by revealing the relationship between identification and purchase intention through parasocial interaction and loyalty. In doing so, the current research validates that identification would precede parasocial relationship, which, in turn, results in loyalty. While the relationship between parasocial relationship and purchase intention has been demonstrated in earlier studies, no known study to date has validated the indirect effect of identification on purchase intention through parasocial relationship and loyalty. LeBron James will be used in this study to assess how parasocial relationships between sports figures and fans influence purchase intention.

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