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Narrative Communications Annotated Bibliography

Academic articles, books, websites, and any other information related to narrative communications research.

Young Adults' Wishful Identification With Television Characters

The Role of Perceived Similarity and Character Attributes

In this study, 208 young adults completed questionnaires measuring their perceptions
of and responses to their favorite fictional television characters, both male and female.
Measures included perceived attitude similarity, perceived character attributes
(smart, successful, attractive, funny, violent, admired), and wishful identification
with the characters. Wishful identification was defined as the desire to be like or act
like the character. Respondents reported greater wishful identification with samegender
characters and with characters who seemed more similar in attitudes. Both
men and women identified more strongly with successful and admired characters of
the other gender, but they differed in the attributes that predicted their wishful identification
with same-gender characters. Men identified with male characters whom
they perceived as successful, intelligent, and violent, whereas women identified with
female characters whom they perceived as successful, intelligent, attractive, and admired.
Humor was the only attribute that was not related to wishful identification. Interpretations
of the findings, and implications for understanding the social impact of
television, are discussed.

Defining Identification

A Theoretical Look at the Identification of Audiences with Media Characters

In this article, I argue that although the notion of identification with media characters
is widely discussed in media research, it has not been carefully conceptualized or rigorously
tested in empirical audience studies. This study presents a theoretical discussion
of identification, including a definition of identification and a discussion of the
consequences of identification with media characters for the development of identity
and socialization processes. It is suggested that a useful distinction can be made between
identification and other types of reactions that media audiences have to media
characters. A critical look at media research involving identification exposes the inherent
conceptual problems in this research and leads to hypotheses regarding the
antecedents and consequences of identification with media characters. The importance
of a theory of identification to media research and communication research,
more broadly, is presented.

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