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Parasocial Interaction

Parasocial interaction (PSI) is a phenomenon in which media viewers find themselves involved in an imaginary, one-sided interpersonal interaction with media personalities or performers. The concept was introduced by psychologists Donald Horton and Richard Wohl in 1956 to describe audience members’ responses to real media characters (called personae) during media consumption, particularly on television. They argued viewers act as if they are involved in an actual interpersonal interaction. Media figures use conversational style, various verbal and nonverbal cues, and user-oriented program formats designed to directly address the audience, creating for them an illusion of intimacy.

Although the interaction is one-sided, without mutual development, audience members often feel they are part of the social interaction with the personae and that they know the personae almost as friends. ...

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