Situational and personal determinants of adolescents’ attitudes toward online celebrity bashing.

Gaëlle Ouvrein, Heidi Vandebosch, Charlotte J. S. De Backer

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Abstract

Celebrities regularly become the victims of online bashing and criticism by the audience, a phenomenon known as celebrity bashing. Part of the reason why audience members are so aggressive toward famous people is that they consider this an acceptable and even entertaining behavior. However, there is limited knowledge on how these acceptable attitudes are formed. Based on the general aggression model (GAM), this study tested the extent to which attitudes toward celebrity bashing are formed based on situational (exposure to bashing) and personal (trait moral disengagement and empathy) factors and the interaction between them. The results of an online survey conducted among adolescents (N = 159) indicated that a combination of personal and situational factors determines the attitudes toward celebrity bashing. In particular, regular exposure to bashing and higher scores on moral disengagement were related to more acceptable attitudes, whereas cognitive empathy was associated with less acceptable attitudes. Moreover, the interaction effect between exposure and cognitive empathy suggests an underlying mainstreaming effect, with the effect of empathy disappearing when exposure increases among adolescent audiences

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-149
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Popular Media
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27 Feb 2023

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