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The role of media figures in adolescent development: relations between autonomy, attachment, and interest in celebrities

Personality and Individual Differences
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/s0191-8869(03)00154-5
  • Celebrity Worship
  • Development
  • Adolescence
  • Attachment
  • Autonomy
  • Media
  • Attitudes


Abstract The influence of figures from the mass media on adolescent development has been somewhat neglected in the literature to date. One particularly important influence concerns the parasocial relationships that adolescents form with favourite celebrities, which have been described as secondary attachments. In this study, celebrity interest was investigated in a sample of 191 British adolescents between the ages of 11 and 16, using a shortened version of the Celebrity Attitude Scale. It was hypothesised that celebrity attachments would reflect the transition from parental attachment to peer attachments and would also be related to increasing emotional autonomy. It was found that, after controlling for age-related effects, high emotional autonomy was a significant predictor of celebrity interest, as well as high attachment to peers and low attachment to parents. Different patterns were observed according to the functions of celebrity attachment: intense, personal interest in celebrities was best predicted by low levels of security and closeness. These findings suggest that celebrities provide adolescents with a secondary group of pseudo-friends during a time of increasing autonomy from parents, but intense focus on a single celebrity may result from difficulties in making this transition.

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