Opinion Leadership| Parasocial Opinion Leadership Media Personalities‘ Influence within Parasocial Relations: Theoretical Conceptualization and Preliminary Results

Paula Stehr, Patrick Rössler, Friederike Schönhardt, Laura Leissner


Personalities in the media both influence and restrict topics of discussion and the amount of information available, thus exerting a substantial influence on the formation of the audience’s political opinion. The present study examines this impact by integrating the theoretical concepts of parasocial relationship and opinion leadership. The resulting phenomenon, parasocial opinion leadership, is based on viewers’ perceptions and emerges if (a) a media user ascribes certain attributes to a media communicator based on a parasocial relationship, which (b) allows for a gradual influence of the media personality on the user’s opinions and attitudes by fulfilling at least one of three functions: information and reduction of complexity, orientation, or arousal of interest.  A qualitative survey among TV users confirms the main assumptions of the concept.


opinion leadership, parasocial relationship, formation of political opinion, media effects

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