Living in the twenty-first century we are exposed to media whether it is television, films, magazines, or tabloids. Celebrities play a huge role in people’s lives by acting as role models for those seeking guidance or advice. Celebrity characteristics and the way we view them have a significant impact on choices we make especially decisions regarding health. Sometimes it isn’t realized that a celebrity actually influenced a choice you’ve made. Although scholars have claimed that celebrities have influenced body image perception, they have neglected to fully appreciate the impacts that celebrities have on issues such as drug use, eating habits and cosmetic appearance. Therefore, scholars must focus on all related health issues not merely being physically fit in order for the general public to realize how much power celebrities really have.
One of the most key predictors of celebrity influence is the involvement with the celebrity. In the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Health Communication, W.J. Brown states that, “Involvement is a concept that communication scholars have used to describe how audience members relate to individuals depicted in and through the mass media” (361). For instance, recent research on television effects point to television viewers becoming very involved with both television characters and television stars through repeated media exposure. There are several theories of involvement that are valuable in the study of celebrity athletes; basking in reflective glory, parasocial interaction, and identification.
W.J. Brown asserts, “Theorists have proposed that fans of athletes and sports teams see “their” team as an extension of themselves (Sigelman, 1986)” (Brown 361). One projected means for this happening is “basking in reflected glory” a process studied by Cialidini and other colleagues. During BIRG, fans have a tendency to envision themselves closely connected with teams that win. Fans using the words like “we won” are evidence of this phenomenon. Most people are also more likely to wear the teams’ apparel after a win. Tendencies to bask in reflected glory help to explain why people develop an imagined association with the athlete or team and shape associated responses like heightened joy after a remarkable win. Conversely, even with losing teams, fans can develop a strong attachment that can induce fans to be loyal although the team is mediocre.
The second theory, parasocial interaction, conceptualized by Horton and Wohl, is basically “an imaginary relationship between a television viewer and the television personality or “persona”” (Horton & Wohl 1956). W.J. Brown says that, “Parasocial relationships with celebrities occur through a variety of mediated contexts” (362). For example, an audience can develop parasocial interaction or relationships with sports celebrities through going to sporting events, watching sports on television, viewing commercials that feature athletes and...