Towards Understanding the Process of Identification with Fictional Characters: The Interplay of Positive Affect, Demographic Similarity, and Personality Similarity
Wong, Kimberly June
Though identification is a construct that has been studied for over a century, surprisingly little is known about the process. Of particular interest to the fields of media and social psychology, identification is generally defined as a psychological process whereby people can vicariously experience the feelings and identity of another person. The current study aims to contribute to the understanding of identification by examining a number of components of identification that have yet to be examined in conjunction with one another. Few studies to date have examined the interactions of dispositional and situational factors that influence individuals? identification with fictional characters. In the current study, situational affect, demographic similarities, and personality similarities were manipulated using an experimental design. Generally, results indicated that readers matching a character on gender and race tended to identify more with the character than those not matching on gender and/or race. Matching on race was also associated with other concepts related to identification, such as a greater willingness to purchase items that a character endorses. Matching on extraversion was also associated with concepts related to identification, such as interest in a character and the perception of being similar to the character, but only when extraversion levels of the viewer were high. Results also indicated that when readers experienced mildly happy moods, they experienced greater identification with the character and tended to feel more transported into the narrative. These results are discussed in terms of the cognitive and affective interactions that may mediate identification and the implications for future research and use in marketing, entertainment media, and advertising.
Identification; Personality; Similarity; Marketing; Media; Psychology; Fictional Characters; Entertainment
dissertation or thesis