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Audience involvement and parasocial interaction can also occur in more than one sub-dimension at the same time, which are shown in previous research. Analyzing the content of letters written to “Hum Log” (We People”), an entertainment-education soap opera broadcast in India, Sood and Rogers (2000) conclude that the three levels of interaction and the two types of involvement are interrelated. They actually cannot categorize 16% of the letters as either critical or referential, therefore the category applied to the letters are critical/referential. In a study of audience involvement with a radio soap opera “Tinka Tinka Suckh” (Happiness Lies in Small Things) Sood (2000) describes that there is an overlap of referential-affective and cognitive-critical involvement in the survey responses. In the present research, the messages are categorized according to the most prevalent sub-dimensions of parasocial interaction exhibited. Some messages reflect more than one category; this will be reflected in the final overall result analysis. For instance, analyzing the first example cited, the affective interaction becomes obvious:

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!

But it also exhibits referential involvement, with the writer expressing how she would act in the same situation as the character Jade. Therefore, for the purposes of the study, the messages are categorized according to the sub-dimensions more strongly expressed. In an attempt to actually reflect the complexities of the messages and of the audience involvement exhibited, the qualitative analysis will supply additional information concerning the intricacies of the messages.

There are also nuances in the levels of the sub-dimension of parasocial interaction. As in the example of “Simplemente Maria”, viewers dressing up to attend the wedding of the two main characters show a high degree of behavior interaction, while in other instances, it does not go to this extreme. An important example from “Simplemente Maria” that can also be correlated to behavioral interaction is the large number of maids that enrolled in literacy and sewing classes, as the main character of the telenovela did. This phenomenon can also be related to empowerment and self-efficacy concepts.
The theoretical framework that anchor this research, formulated by the combination of social learning theory and dialogical communication, is materialized with the utilization of the main concept of the parasocial interaction sub-dimension model suggested by Sood & Rogers (2000) to qualitatively analyze the content of messages posted in the “El Clon” Telenovela-World forum. The vicarious learning notion is evident when writers express how they affectively interact with characters and/or how they learn from the novela. The fact that the forum participants are already engaging in interpersonal communication through the messages that they post, and therefore, in a true dialogical sense learning from one another also helps to solidify the theories that guide this research. The critical commentaries and the display of actions taken stemming from the telenovela viewing or the forum participation corroborate the concepts of empowerment and self/collective-efficacy.
As described earlier, it is important to emphasize that researchers argue that media needs to be combined with interpersonal communication to bring change (Rogers, 1983). As Papa et. al. (2000) state:

The mass media alone seldom effect individual change, but they can stimulate conversations among listeners, which create opportunities for social learning as people, individually and collectively, consider new patterns of thought and behavior (p. 33)

The difficulty in studying telenovelas’s influence under the prism of media effects or even reception studies is to isolate the phenomenon. In the day-to-day life of the audience there is much input and feedback received from different sources. In Brazil for example, it is practically impossible to rule out the primary source of influence, since the novelas are not only part of the social conversations, in the home, at work, at school, but they are also in the press, in television news, and even in the parliamentary speech. One might not watch the telenovela, yet cannot escape the subject. The topic will always surface. In this research, this challenge is also present when trying to elucidate the influence of the telenovela “El Clon” under the foundation of the Internet forum. This can be viewed as one of the research limitations. However, if we take the premise postulated by Rogers (1983) that media needs to be coupled with interpersonal communication; the study of the telenova influence through the discussion forum can also be seen as a strength, since it analyses the communication of messages between posters in a dialogical format. With the understanding that it is not possible to dichotomize the media-interpersonal communication effects, the aim of this study is to do an investigative work encompassing these two modes of communication.



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