The Role of Team and Social Identity in Parasocial Relationships and Parasocial Breakups: Lionel Messi’s Departure From FC Barcelona

Sai Datta Mikkilineni, Andrew C. Billings, Kenon A. Brown, Xavier Ramon


Communication scholars have demonstrated great interest in exploring the manifestation of parasocial relationships (PSR) with media persona. Despite such elaborate investigations, the mechanisms underlying PSR and parasocial breakup (PSB) are relatively unexplored in nonfictional circumstances. This study examines the often-overlooked effect of multiple identities (i.e., social and team identity) on expressions of PSR and PSB. Using the 2021 exit of soccer superstar Lionel Messi from FC Barcelona, this study incorporates data from 293 Spaniards to assess a structural equation model, finding that social and team identities were positively related to PSR, although both identities revealed distinct influences. Similarly, social and team identities intensified PSB. Finally, our results also indicate that PSR is positively related to PSB. This study advances current theoretical understandings of PSR and PSB, particularly within a non-American media context.


parasocial relationships, parasocial breakup, social identity, team identity

Full Text: