Media, Celebrities, and Fans: An Examination of Adolescents' Media Usage and Involvement with Entertainment Celebrities

By Chia, Stella C.; Poo, Yip Ling | Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Spring 2009 | Go to article overview

Media, Celebrities, and Fans: An Examination of Adolescents' Media Usage and Involvement with Entertainment Celebrities


Chia, Stella C., Poo, Yip Ling, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly


This study examines how adolescents' involvement with entertainment celebrities mediates media effects on personal values and subjective well-being. A survey of 621 adolescents aged from 11 to 18 years old in Singapore showed that the three aspects of adolescents' involvement with celebrities-entertainment-social values, intense-personal feelings, and borderline-pathological tendencies-were associated with adolescents' media consumption, with the association between intense-personal feelings and media consumption a reciprocal one. The three aspects were directly or indirectly associated with the adolescents' materialistic values, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.

A celebrity can be defined as a person well-known in one of a wide variety of fields such as science, politics, or entertainment.1 Adolescents worldwide, however, seem to prefer celebrities in the entertainment arena, such as pop singers and film stars.2 This phenomenon has received increasing attention from parents, educators, and communication researchers because adolescents' involvement with entertainment celebrities is likely to be associated with their own attitudes and behaviors. A number of studies have found support for the associations between involvement with celebrities and adolescents' adoption of dressing styles, product purchases, and health behaviors.3 A bigger concern, however, arises from the associations between involvement with celebrities and adolescents' personal values or subjective well-being.4 Examination of possible explanations for these associations can help us further understand how adolescents develop self-concept and identity.

Adolescents' involvement with celebrities is mostly mediated by the mass media.5 The proliferation of entertainment media worldwide has increased the exposure of adolescents to entertainment celebrities and has given the celebrities a powerful influence over the adolescents.6 Scholars argue that the level of involvement with celebrities is an important predictor of attitudinal and behavioral changes that result from exposure to celebrities in the media.7 To probe how adolescents' involvement with celebrities can mediate the effects of media on adolescents, we propose a theoretical model with which we test (1) how media consumption is related to adolescents' involvement with entertainment celebrities and (2) how the intensity of involvement with celebrities may influence adolescents' personal values and subjective well-being. We use theory of identification,8 a relational approach,9 and social comparison theory10 to suggest both direct and indirect effects of celebrities. We selected Singapore as the locale for this study because young people in this city state have demonstrated an increasingly high level of involvement with celebrities. For example, young, star-struck fans in Singapore are reported to have scrimped and taken up part-time jobs in order to catch their celebrity idols in concerts overseas.11 We expect the findings of this study to provide us with a theoretical understanding of the roles that celebrities and media play in Singaporean young people's lives. As adolescents worldwide have reported a high level of involvement with entertainment celebrities, we also expect our findings to strengthen insights into the associations between media, celebrities, and adolescents in other societies around the world.

Involvement with Celebrities. Involvement, defined as the degree to which an individual actively participates in decoding a media message,12 is a broad concept that regards media consumers as active seekers rather than passive receivers of information.13 Rubin and Perse14 identified two types of audience involvement. One refers to a motivational state that reflects the attitudes which people bring to the communication situation; the other includes the cognitive, affective, and behavioral participation induced by the media during media exposure. Brown and his colleagues15 further conceptualized audience involvement with celebrities as (1) parasocial relationships with media figures and (2) identification with media figures. …

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Media, Celebrities, and Fans: An Examination of Adolescents' Media Usage and Involvement with Entertainment Celebrities
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