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Rubin, Perse, and Powel (1985) modify Levy’s scale into a 20-item scale, also to measure parasocial interaction with television newscasters, with a range from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”. They then eliminate nine redundant items from the scale. Some items included in the scale are “I feel sorry for my favorite newscaster when he makes a mistake”, “ I look forward to watching my favorite newscaster on tonight’s news”. Variations of the 20-item scale are used to measure parasocial interaction with soap characters (Rubin, & Perse, 1987), comedians (Auter, 1992), TV shopping host (Grant, Guthrie, & Rokeach, 1991), and favorite TV personalities (Rubin & McHugh 1987; Turner, 1993). A. M. Rubin & Pearse (1987) condense the scale to 10 items, still with high internal reliability and internal correlation with the 20-item scale.

Qualitative research of parasocial interaction is undertaken by scholars evaluating not only dimensions and sub-dimensions of parasocial interaction (Sood & Rogers 2000), but also effects of entertainment-education initiatives (Papa et. al. 2000).

According to Rubin & Pearse (1987) three dimensions of parasocial interaction between the audience and the media character or the media program can be identified. These dimensions are recognized as affective interaction, cognitive interaction, and behavioral interaction. Liebes & Katz (1986) identify audience referential and critical involvement as components of the audience interaction with the television soap opera Dallas. Sood & Rogers (2000) argue that the concept of parasocial interaction should include sub-dimensions of affective oriented, behavioral, cognitive, and critical and referential involvement, which are further explained.

Affective oriented parasocial interaction refers to the level at which an audience member reacts positively to or rejects a media character. Sood (2000) extends this notion to audience identification with important components of the program, such as the environment, a place or a community (Sood, 2002). Researchers contend that the greater the identification with a character, the more likely that character’s behavior will influence the audience at the attitudinal and behavioral level (Papa et. al. 2000).

In the case of this study, affective interaction is also translated into the identification with the characters that represent the telenovela’s Muslim world, and also its cultural theme. Affective oriented parasocial interaction can be clearly identified in the following examples from messages posted in “El Clon” Telenovela World’s forum. All the messages presented in this study are in their original form:

  1. GRRRRRRR!!! I was BEYOND FURIOUS when I saw Said give his bedroom key to Nazira, making Jade look like a chump. All of la Medina would have heard me cursing and screaming, that’s for sure! If there’s one thing I value….it’s my PRIVACY. That would have been the end of the marriage. HAH! I would never tolerate my husband putting his sister before me like that. No way toots! No way in hell would I tolerate such a marriage. I would have packed my bags, said “Feet, don’t fail me now”, and I would have never looked back. How outrageously infuriating!
  2. Gloria Perez is a genius. She managed to take characters like Nazira and, over time, make us change our opinions of them. In the beginning I couldn't stand Nazira, she was so bossy, demanding, nasty, etc.

But then came all the fairy-tale stories she told and I loved every one of them. Those were some of the funniest scenes in the novela.

But the best Nazira moment was when she had pity on Jade and allowed her to see Kadija behind Said's back. I thought she was magnificent then, and it showed that beneath all the nastiness was a woman who's dreams had been frustrated by her brothers but who had a woman's tender heart after all--and a woman's courage. She did what was right--and was always good to the children in the family.

Cognitive oriented parasocial interaction is the degree to which viewers focus on a media character and reflect about the character’s behavior (Papa et. al., 2000). In a broader understanding, Sood & Rogers (2000) define cognitive interaction as: “…The degree to which audience members pay careful attention to the educational content of a soap opera episode, reflecting on its meaning and importance.” (p.390)



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