The Role of Parasocial Interaction and Social Media Participation in the Two-Step Flow of Communication
AuthorLawry, Charles Aaron
two step flow
user generated content
Family & Consumer Sciences
AdvisorBhappu, Anita D.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe Two-Step Flow of Communication suggests that opinion leaders have a greater impact on consumers' product choices and decisions than marketers. With the advent of the Internet and e-commerce, many consumer researchers expanded the study of opinion leadership to incorporate electronic Word-of-Mouth behavior (eWOM) into the Two-Step Flow of Communication. Yet, with the recent and increasing prominence of social media, there appears to be a gap within the opinion leadership literature. Several studies have examined how the Internet and social media empower opinion leaders to instantaneously influence large crowds with eWOM. Marginally few studies, however, have considered how the production of user-generated content (UGC) among opinion leaders can further expand their peer influence. Furthermore, emergent research illustrates that social media is transforming into an enclave for celebrity culture, wherein celebrities use social media to invoke gossip and fantasy in consumers. These technological and cultural shifts within the Internet and social media necessitate an understanding of how UGC, social media and celebrity culture fit within the Two-Step Flow of Communication. In order to address these gaps, the current study probed the relationships amongst parasocial interaction, opinion leadership and willingness to participate in UGC and eWOM. Specifically, parasocial interaction is a history of interactions between a consumer and celebrity that manifest into a fantasized, personal relationship. Relevant hypotheses were developed and used to construct a theoretical model. Data were collected from a nationally representative sample (n = 555) and a Structural Equation Model was subsequently run to test the hypotheses. The findings suggest that social values, knowledge and parasocial interaction are positively related to opinion leadership. In turn, opinion leadership is positively related to willingness to participate in UGC and eWOM. Parasocial interaction, too, is positively related to willingness to participate in UGC and eWOM. A mediation effect was supported whereby opinion leadership significantly mediates the relationship between parasocial interaction and UGC, but not eWOM. The production of UGC is shown to be dependent upon parasocial interaction and opinion leadership. Nonetheless, eWOM does not seem to necessitate opinion leadership and can be produced directly from parasocial interactions.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Family & Consumer Sciences