Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Participation on Celebrity Gossip Blogs: A Study of Celebrity Attitudes and Gratifications

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

Participation on Celebrity Gossip Blogs: A Study of Celebrity Attitudes and Gratifications

Article excerpt

Celebrity worship is common in young adults (Maltby, Day, McCutcheon, Martin, & Cayanus, 2004), and although the term 'celebrity' can refer to individuals in politics, science, education and other fields, many adults seem to prefer entertainment figures as those they most admire. Celebrity worship is typically referred to as an obsessive behavior where "persons with assumed intact identities become virtually obsessed with one or more celebrities--similar to an erotomanic type of delusional disorder" (Maltby, Houran, & McCutcheon, 2003, p. 25). Research on celebrity worship has grown over the years, from studies on the influence of propaganda (Kamins, Brand, Hoeke, & Moe, 1989; Silvera & Austad, 2004), to celebrity endorsements (Powell & Prasad, 2010), and lifestyle choices (Shaw, Whitehead, & Giles, 2010). Popular platforms for communication about celebrities occur largely through social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. In recent years, blogging has been widely regarded as one of the most popular forms of conversations about celebrities; in fact, some media proprietors even work with celebrities to promote them online (Maltby, Day, McCutcheon, Gillett, Houran, & Ashe, 2004). However, a concern for those who may engage in overt celebrity worship is psychological well-being (Boon & Lomore, 2001) and over-identification with celebrities' values (Maltby, Day, McCutcheon, Martin, & Cayanus, 2004). Mass media often portray celebrities and their lifestyles as glamorous, a misperception for viewers that may result in their having a lower self-concept or greater dissatisfaction in life. The growth of blogs, social media, and other new forms of online interaction have prompted increased communication. With blogs such as Perez Hilton's, which receives over 4 million visitors per day (Alexa.com, 2014a), many of these outlets have "as many [viewers] as a medium-sized city daily or a cable news show" (Boutin, 2004). By beginning to understand participants of celebrity gossip blogs, we can further explore selfpresentation, the interpersonal relationships that bloggers have with each other and in real-life, and the impact these blogs have on them.

A growing body of research on celebrity worship (Maltby, Day, McCutcheon, Martin, & Cayanus, 2004; Reeves, Baker, & Truluck, 2012; Shaw, Whitehead, & Giles, 2010; Silvera & Austad, 2004) has explored the role that celebrities have on the lives of their fans. The preoccupation with celebrities is related to absorption and disassociation (Sheridan, Maltby, & Gillett, 2006), which means that more extreme aspects of celebrity worship tend to lead to compromised self-identities. In addition, preoccupation with celebrities tends to be related to social dysfunction and depression (Maltby, McCutcheon, Ashe, & Houran, 2001), a lower self-concept, lesser well-being, and life dissatisfaction (Reeves, Baker, & Truluck, 2012), although this is not always the case. Although research has examined celebrity worship in the context of computer-mediated, parasocial relationships (Ballantine & Martin, 2005; Lim & Kim, 2011), there may be a need to further examine participation on celebrity gossip blogs. Celebrity gossip blogs are an easily accessible space where individuals can easily interact with each other. With this in mind, the primary aim of this study is to investigate participants on celebrity gossip blogs by seeking out their attitudes toward celebrities (McCutcheon, Lange, & Houran, 2002) and their gratifications (Leung, 2001) through surveying several of the most popular gossip blogs from 2014.

Celebrity worship and the celebrity attitude scale

Mass communication research has examined the idea of attachments with celebrity figures in the media for quite some time (Ashe, Maltby, & McCutcheon, 2005; Maltby, Giles, Barber, & McCutcheon, 2005). The concept of celebrity worship itself is typically identified as an obsessive behavior, although a better understanding of gratifications may further explicate this (Maltby, Houran, & McCutcheon, 2003). …

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