Parasocial Experiences in the Political Arena

Stefanie Z. Demetriades, Nathan Walter, Jonathan Cohen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


As politics becomes increasingly personalized, research in parasocial relationships (PSRs) has begun to explore the effects of the public’s imagined relationships with political figures. This chapter provides an overview of this emerging area of study, beginning with a discussion of three primary strands of research on politically relevant PSRs. The first focuses on PSRs with politicians (e.g., Donald Trump) and examines how media and social media foster these parasocial experiences. The second looks at PSRs with media personae, including newscasters, pundits, and celebrities, who may shape audiences’ political perceptions and engagement. The third line of research turns to PSRs with characters in political TV shows (e.g., The West Wing), exploring how fictional politicians can have real-world influence. The chapter then discusses overlaps and distinctions between PSRs and other related predictors of political support, as well as current methods utilized to measure PSRs with politicians, and concludes with some recommendations for the future of study and theorization of the political impact of PSRs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Parasocial Experiences
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780197650707
ISBN (Print)9780197650677
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Oxford University Press 2023.


  • Celebrity politics
  • Donald Trump
  • measurement validity
  • political participation
  • social media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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