Can one TV show make a difference? Will & Grace and the parasocial contact hypothesis

Edward Schiappa, Dean E Hewes, Peter B. Gregg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

131 Scopus citations

Abstract

Television has an opportunity to influence beliefs about groups with which individuals typically may have little direct social contact. This study describes a synthesis of the Contact Hypothesis and the concept of Parasocial Interaction to pose what we call the Parasocial Contact Hypothesis to test whether exposure to gay men on Will & Grace can influence attitudes toward gay men in general. Based on a study of 245 university students, this study examines the relationships among number and intimacy of gay social contacts, parasocial interaction, viewing frequency of Will & Grace, and scores on Herek's Attitudes Toward Gay Men and Lesbians scale. Increased viewing frequency and parasocial interaction were found to correlate with lower levels of sexual prejudice-a relationship that was most pronounced for those with the least amount of social contact with lesbians and gay men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-37
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Homosexuality
Volume51
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 6 2006

Keywords

  • Attitudes toward homosexuals
  • Contact hypothesis
  • Parasocial interaction

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