Congratulations to Kaillee Philleo ’21 for the successful defense of her Honors in the Major Project entitled “The Effect of Transitions on Parasocial Relationships: An Examination of Surrogate Use in College Freshmen During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Her supervisor, Dr. Lindsey Osterman was joined by committee members, Dr. Todd Peppers and Dr. Stacy Wetmore to oversee her defense.
During the COVID-19 pandemic and with the increasing amount of time people spend interacting with media figures through online or broadcast platforms, an interest in examining parasocial relationships has become more popular. Specifically, little research has been conducted on parasocial relationships and their role during a period of transition. For that reason, this study set out to examine the role of surrogates within first-year college students. Specifically, we were interested in examining what interactions existed between engagement in activities (e.g., parasocial, social, and nonsocial), campus connectedness, loneliness, and closeness. While focusing on first-year college students, we also took into consideration the current pandemic and the state of the college during the time of this study. Results echoed previous research findings in that loneliness was found to be correlated with parasocial interactions. Moreover, we found partial support for our hypotheses through the findings that (1) loneliness mediated relationships between campus connectedness and parasocial and social activities, as well as (2) social activities mediated the relationship between campus connectedness and loneliness. Moreover, even though our moderation analyses did not result in significant main interactions, parasocial surrogate use was suggested within our data set. While some clear limitations were present within this study, we offered ways in which future research could continue to examine these variables.
Congratulations again to Kaillee Philleo ’21 on a successful defense and we look forward to seeing all you accomplish in the future!
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