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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 research results.

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.



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Acknowledgements / Dedication - Abstract








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