Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A Warm TV Can Drive Away Feelings Of Loneliness And Rejection

Date:
April 23, 2009
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
Not all technology meets human needs, and some technologies provide only the illusion of having met your needs. But new research by psychologists indicates that illusionary relationships with the characters and personalities on favorite TV shows can provide people with feelings of belonging, even in the face of low self esteem or after being rejected by friends or family members.

New research suggests that illusionary relationships with the characters and personalities on favorite TV shows can provide people with feelings of belonging, even in the face of low self esteem or after being rejected by friends or family members.
Credit: iStockphoto/Gregor Inkret

Not all technology meets human needs, and some technologies provide only the illusion of having met your needs.

But new research by psychologists at the University at Buffalo and Miami University, Ohio, indicates that illusionary relationships with the characters and personalities on favorite TV shows can provide people with feelings of belonging, even in the face of low self esteem or after being rejected by friends or family members.

The findings are described in four studies published in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

"The research provides evidence for the 'social surrogacy hypothesis,' which holds that humans can use technologies, like television, to provide the experience of belonging when no real belongingness has been experienced," says one of the study's authors, Shira Gabriel, Ph.D., UB assistant professor of psychology.

"We also argue that other commonplace technologies such as movies, music or interactive video games, as well as television, can fulfill this need."

Shira's co-authors are Jaye L. Derrick, Ph.D., postdoctoral associate and adjunct instructor of psychology at UB, and Kurt Hugenberg, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Miami University.

The first study, of 701 undergraduate students, used the Loneliness Activities Scale and the Likelihood of Feeling Lonely Scale to find that subjects reported tuning to favored television programs when they felt lonely and felt less lonely when viewing those programs.

Study 2 used essays to experimentally manipulate the belongingness needs of 102 undergraduate subjects and assess the importance of their favored television programs when those needs were stimulated. Participants whose belongingness needs were aroused reveled longer in their descriptions of favored television programs than in descriptions of non-favored programs, the study found.

Study 3 of 116 participants employed the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule and an eight-item measure of feelings of rejection to find that thinking about favored television programs buffered subjects against drops in self-esteem, increases in negative mood and feelings of rejection commonly elicited by threats to close relationships.

Study 4 asked 222 participants to write a 10-minute essay about their favorite television program, and then to write about programs they watch "when nothing else is on," or about experiencing an academic achievement. They were then asked to verbally describe what they had written in as much detail as possible.

After writing about favored television programs, the subjects verbally expressed fewer feelings of loneliness or exclusion than when verbally describing either of the two control situations (essays about programs watched when nothing else is on, academic achievement). This is evidence, say the researchers, that illusionary or "parasocial" relationships with television characters or personalities can ease belongingness needs.

It remains an open question, say the researchers, whether social surrogacy suppresses belongingness needs or actually fulfills them, and they acknowledge that the kind of social surrogacy provoked by these programs can be a poor substitution for "real" human-to-human experience.

"Turning one's back on family and friends for the solace of television may be maladaptive and leave a person with fewer resources over time," says UB's Derrick, "but for those who have difficulty experiencing social interaction because of physical or environmental constraints, technologically induced belongingness may offer comfort."

The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University at Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Jaye L. Derrick, Shira Gabriel, Kurt Hugenberg. Social surrogacy: How favored television programs provide the experience of belonging. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 2009; 45 (2): 352 DOI: 10.1016/j.jesp.2008.12.003

Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "A Warm TV Can Drive Away Feelings Of Loneliness And Rejection." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422103730.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2009, April 23). A Warm TV Can Drive Away Feelings Of Loneliness And Rejection. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422103730.htm
University at Buffalo. "A Warm TV Can Drive Away Feelings Of Loneliness And Rejection." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090422103730.htm (accessed August 22, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, August 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins