Another essential component of the study is the utilization of
the parasocial sub-dimension model suggested by Sood & Rogers
(2000), in order to materialize the study. The parasocial theory
helped in categorizing the messages in five sub-dimensions constructs:
affective interaction, behavioral interaction, cognitive interaction,
and critical and referential involvement. These sub-dimensions facilitate
the understanding of the relationship between the audience of the
telenovela, embodied by the message writers, and the characters
and the Muslim themes represented in the novela.
Results from the qualitative content analysis of the messages confirmed
previous studies indicating that the sub-dimensions might be viewed
as overlapping constructs. Many of the posts display different identifiable
sub-dimensions. The messages reflect a layer of sub-dimensions that
are interconnected and interrelated. However, it is possible to
identify the messages according to their strongest characteristic,
as it is shown in the study. The qualitative analysis let the intricacies
observed in the messages be fully translated and presented in the
Quantitative studies of parasocial interactions are conducted using
psychometric scales to measure the strength of parasocial interaction
between the viewers and TV characters. Future researchers might
want to take this route in order to complement the qualitative work.
It is also important to observe that research results might be different
depending on the context of the study. In this particular study,
the results were influenced by the theme chosen and the search mechanism
utilizing the word Muslim, which made most of the messages relate
to the topic discussed and by definition classified as cognitive
interaction. Time and financial constraints also need to be factored
into account in analyzing the results. Further research should be
undertaken to investigate if a more extensive study, perhaps a longitudinal
study would provide different outcomes.
The model of investigation proposed here combines Bandura, Freire,
and the parasocial interaction theory. It allows for researchers,
development organizations, and governmental agencies to broad their
possibilities without having to be restricted to one theory. This
approach is important to further develop the scholarship in reception
and media effect studies, and development communication.
Figure 6.1: Model for theoretical framework
To understand the research results it is necessary to take the research
context into consideration. The messages are a form of dialogue
or conversation among the different posters. The parasocial sub-dimension
behavioral interactions, by definition, is embedded in all the messages,
since behavioral interaction is considered when viewers talk among
themselves about the character, or think about the program when
it is over. Therefore, the fact that the context in which the study
takes place is a message board where participants exchange ideas,
opinions, and questions, implies that a behavioral interaction is
already taking place.
Another factor that needs consideration regarding the results of
the study is the method utilized for the selection of the sample.
Using a search engine provided by the web site, a search is conducted
with the word Muslim in the subject of the messages. While this
method provide an unbiased sample, which does not interfere with
the general purpose of the study, it provides a sample that by definition
is mostly composed of messages that express the sub-dimension cognitive
interaction. Cognitive interaction is when an audience member pays
careful attention to the educational content of a soap opera.
The results of the qualitative content analysis of the messages
reveal that posters express affective interaction verbalizing positive
and/or negative feelings towards the characters or the cultural
thematic of the novela. Some express empathy for the characters
and others show disapproval of the character’s behavior. Some
messages are also vocal about the writer’s feelings towards
the portrayal of the Muslim culture, sometimes condemning and disagreeing
with it, other times being glad for it.