“They Are Wallowing in Luxury, but Complain About the Struggles of Lockdown”: A Field Study of Audiences’ Responses to Celebrity COVID-19 Posts

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

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Many people are fascinated by celebrities and like to follow them and leave positive comments online about the luxurious lives they lead. There are doubts and concerns, however, about whether celebrity posts regarding personal experiences and advice generate positive responses when their audience is in a situation of chronic stress, such as during a pandemic. On the basis of a field study of real celebrity COVID-19 Instagram posts, this study tested a model for exploring the role of both contextual (i.e., references to luxury in celebrity posts) and individual (i.e., upward social comparison orientation [SCO] and attitudes toward the celebrity) factors in explaining how audiences respond emotionally and behaviorally (i.e., commenting) to celebrity posts during a stressful period. The results indicated that the audience s emotional and behavioral responses were more negative toward posts with more cues of luxury. SCO seems to moderate these effects, indicating that upward SCO based on these cues can motivate and support to a certain level, but switches to negative effects once the focus on luxury becomes too strong. The results regarding attitudes toward the celebrities behind the messages confirmed the powerful role of this variable during chronic stress, establishing a link between more positive attitudes and more positive emotional responses (amusement and inspiration). These results offer some first exploratory insights into the role of celebrity representations during a global period of stress, which could lay the basis for future experimental research on this topic.

Originele taal-2English
Pagina's (van-tot)40-54
Aantal pagina's15
TijdschriftJournal of Media Psychology
Volume35
Nummer van het tijdschrift1
DOI's
StatusPublished - jan 2023

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© 2023 Hogrefe Publishing GmbH. All rights reserved.

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