AMERICAN PARASOCIAL INTERACTIONS WITH FICTIONAL LATTER-DAY SAINTS
Author(s)Zarian, Justin John
KeywordsAttitudes Towards Latter-Day Saints
Attitudes Towards Religion
Film & Television
Social and Behavioral Sciences
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AbstractDespite increased media coverage, the American public’s opinion towards the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has stagnated. Most LDS media studies consist of self-contained content analyses or on the impact of real world individuals, with few academic findings on the impact fictional LDS characters have on audiences. This study was to see if exposure to fictional LDS affected attitudes towards real-life members. Building upon the parasocial contact hypothesis, rooted in the intergroup contact hypothesis, subjects were split into groups where they may or may not fill out a pre-test questionnaire. They then viewed video reels featuring LDS characters made by non-LDS creators with certain emotional coding. Afterwards, they would fill out a posttest questionnaire measuring attitudes towards real life Latter-Day Saints following content exposure. The research only proved partial significance that the amount of prior contact with Latter-Day Saints, as well as prior knowledge of LDS doctrine, affected how a subject views real-world Latter-Day Saints following content exposure. Subject responses towards specific characters implied a division between characters considered to be likable versus those typical of perceived real-world LDS.