Celebrity Media: Exploring How Interest and Engagement with Celebrities Influences Critical Evaluation of Feminine Stereotypes among Emerging Adult Women

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Celebrity Media: Exploring How Interest and Engagement with Celebrities Influences Critical Evaluation of Feminine Stereotypes among Emerging Adult Women
Hall, Andrea E
University of Florida
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Thesis/Dissertation Information

Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Mass Communication
Journalism and Communications
Committee Chair:
Wanta,Wayne M
Committee Co-Chair:
Kelleher,Thomas A
Committee Members:
Waddell,Thomas F
Shehan,Constance L
Graduation Date:


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Unknown ( sobekcm )


General Note:
Celebrities are a pervasive part of American society. Once relegated to Hollywood and celebrity-focused tabloids, now celebrity content can be found in news from politics to entertainment, public health messages, and beyond. Celebrity media has been criticized for distracting individuals from more important topics and for presenting limited and demeaning views of femininity for women. The latter is particularly concerning considering celebrity content often targeted at and consumed by emerging adult women who are in a formative stage of life. Previous research in social cognitive theory discusses that individuals learn vicariously about social norms through their families, society, and media. The question isn't if celebrities are influential, previous research in marketing and advertising have proven they are, but if women critically evaluate the content from celebrities to process it for potential positive and negative influences it may have. This study is situated in social cognitive theory and uses and gratifications because while there is evidence that women are influenced by celebrities that influence may be impacted by why they consume celebrity content. This study interviewed women between the ages of 18 and 25 years old to discuss their media habits, celebrity interests, motivations for consuming celebrity news and understanding their view of femininity and how it is presented in celebrity media. The goal was to listen to how they talked about their favorite celebrities they follow and more general celebrities to see if they criticize or even defend their celebrities' content. The overall outcome of the study was that women do evaluate some of the celebrity messages. When it comes to individuals' favorite celebrities, they tended to overlook stereotypical feminine messages present in their photos and looks and instead focused on ways that celebrity was active in social causes, being authentic and open with her day-to-day life, and ways she presented feel-good content. The women were more critical of sexy appearance and body image issues, those two being the most talked about, when discussing celebrities they have been taught are more fake like the Kardashians and when talking about celebrities in general.

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to start by thanking and acknowledging my dissertation committee mentorsh ip and encouragement, read endless drafts, and, patiently, answered my panicked emails with words of wisdom and positivity. I am thankful that you were willing to join me on this journey and lead me across the finish line. You have helped me become a bette r scholar and taught me the importance of being a compassionate educator. I would also like to thank my committee members: Dr. Frank Waddell, who has been one of the most patient committee members over the years and has provided feedback that has helped t o shape and improve this dissertation tremendously; Dr. Tom Kelleher, whose supportive nature helped me articulate my ideas during my proposal defense that brought more focus to this research; and Dr. Connie Shehan, who has encouraged me when the days were hard, who never stopped supporting this dream, and who provided necessary feedback on feminist literature and qualitative methods. This whole committee has gone above and beyond for me, and I am incredibly grateful for each of you. I would like to pay spe cial tribute to my parents, Delbert and Kathy Hall , who have provided unwavering love and support. They went through the ups and downs of this degree alongside me and bore the burden of my stress on many occasions. They encouraged me every step of the way, answered every phone call, sent gift cards to make sure I was fed, and were never mad when I had to spend holidays and breaks working at their dining room table for hours each day. Thank you for being the most


5 loving parents a child could ever ask for and for affording me every opportunity I have ever wanted. There are a few special people and groups who I am so lucky to have had cheering me on. First, I would like to thank my friends, especially Jodie, Charles, Lauren, Nicole and Ronen. They have provide d endless support. Second, I have had some wonderful mentors throughout my educational and professional career. Renee Martin Kratzer, Patricia Letakis, Tim Kalich , and Ted Spiker have all believed in me and helped me improve my skills as a journalist, desi gner, and instructor. Next, I want to s team and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. When I needed a new community at UF, they welcomed me with open arms. I am grateful for the friendships I made and the professional skills I developed in my MarComm role. I would also like to thank my Troy University family. The Hall School of Journalism has some of the most kind and talented faculty, and I am glad to be a part of such a wonderful school .


6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF TABLES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 8 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 12 Celebrity and Media ................................ ................................ ................................ 13 Celebrity Influence ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 15 Theoretical Basis ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 19 Celebrity Worship ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 23 Celebrity Media Criticism ................................ ................................ ........................ 25 2 LITERATURE REVIEW ................................ ................................ .......................... 27 Media as Socialization of Gender ................................ ................................ ........... 27 Uses and Gratifications Theory ................................ ................................ ............... 29 Defining Celebrity ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 31 Characteristics of Celebrity Content ................................ ................................ . 32 Motivations for Consuming ................................ ................................ ............... 34 Intrinsic Motivation ................................ ................................ ............................ 35 Entertainment ................................ ................................ ............................. 36 Mood management ................................ ................................ .................... 36 Escapism ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 37 Extrinsic Motivation ................................ ................................ .......................... 38 Social cohesion ................................ ................................ .......................... 39 Social pressure ................................ ................................ .......................... 40 Aspiration ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 40 Social Cognitive Theory ................................ ................................ .......................... 42 Emergence of Social Cognitive Theory ................................ ............................ 43 Applied to Gender ................................ ................................ ............................ 43 Applied to Media ................................ ................................ ............................... 44 Defining Femininity and Feminine Stereotypes ................................ ....................... 45 Normative Ideal Woman ................................ ................................ ......................... 45 Appearance ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 46 Sexual Objectification of Women ................................ ................................ ...... 47 Social Roles of Women ................................ ................................ .................... 48 Stereotype Activation ................................ ................................ .............................. 50 Emerging Adulthood & Women ................................ ................................ ............... 52


7 Defining Engagement ................................ ................................ ............................. 54 Types of Engagement with Celebrity Content ................................ .................. 58 Engagement Levels ................................ ................................ .......................... 61 Media Literacy ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 64 3 METHOD ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 68 Justification for Qualitative Inquiry ................................ ................................ .......... 68 Thematic Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 71 Procedure ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 73 Sample Size ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 75 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 75 4 RESULTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 78 Understanding the Sample ................................ ................................ ..................... 78 Defining Celebrities ................................ ................................ ................................ . 81 Changing Landscape of Media on Celebrities ................................ ........................ 84 Research Questions & Themes ................................ ................................ .............. 85 Resear ch Question 1 Motivation ................................ ................................ ... 85 Research Question 2 Defining Femininity ................................ ..................... 94 Research Question 3 Accepting and Rejecting Femininity ............................ 97 Research Question 4 Celebrity Content ................................ ...................... 103 Research Question 5 Celebrity Engagement ................................ .............. 106 Research Question 6 Critical Evaluation ................................ ..................... 111 Looking at Critical Evaluation and Feminine Stereotypes ................................ ..... 121 Agree ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 121 Disagree ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 123 Evolved ................................ ................................ ................................ ........... 123 5 DISCUSSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 127 Discussion of Research Questions ................................ ................................ ....... 128 Major Finding ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 137 Practical Implications ................................ ................................ ............................ 142 Theoretica l Implications ................................ ................................ ........................ 143 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 145 Future Research ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 146 Conclusion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 147 APPENDIX: INTERVIEW PROTOCOL ................................ ................................ ....... 149 LIST OF REFERE NCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 152 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 179


8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4 1 Celebrity Definitions by Participants ................................ ................................ ... 82


9 LIST OF FIGURES Figur e page 2 1 From Calder & Malthouse, 2008 ................................ ................................ ......... 56 2 2 From Hutton & Fodsick, 2011 ................................ ................................ ............. 58


10 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy CELEBRITY MEDIA: EXPLORING HOW INTEREST AND ENGAGEMENT WITH CELEBRITIES INFLUENCES CRITICAL EVALUATION OF FEMININE STEREOTYPES AMONG EMERGING ADULT WOMEN By Andrea Elizabeth Hall August 2020 Chair: Wayne Wanta Major: Mass Communication Celebrities are a pervasive part of American society. Once relegated to Hollywood and cel ebrity focused tabloids, now celebrity content can be found in news from politics to entertainment, public health messages , and beyond. Celebrity media has been criticized for distracting individuals from more important topics and for presenting limited an d demeaning views of femininity for women. The latter is particularly concerning considering celebrity content often targeted at and consumed by emerging adult women who are in a formative stage of life. Previous research in social cognitive theory discuss es that individuals learn vicariously about social norms through previous research in marketing and advertising have proven they are, but if women critically evaluate th e content from celebrities to process it for potential positive and negative influences it may have. This study is situated in social cognitive theory and uses and gratifications because while there is evidence that women are influenced by celebrities tha t influence may be impacted by why they consume celebrity content. This study interviewed


11 women between the ages of 18 and 25 years old to discuss their media habits, celebrity interests, motivations for consuming celebrity news and understanding their vie w of femininity and how it is presented in celebrity media. The goal was to listen to how they talked about their favorite celebrities they follow and more general celebrities to see if they criticize or even defend their content. The overall outcome of the study was that women do evaluate some of the overlook stereotypical feminine messages present in their photos and looks and instead focused on ways that c elebrity was active in social causes, being authentic and open with her day to day life, and ways she presented feel good content. The women were more critical of sexy appearance and body image issues, those two being the most talked about, when discussing celebrities they have been taught are more fake like the Kardashians and when talking about celebrities in general.


12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Celebrities are a pervasive part of society through which we engage in public identity and cultural discourse because they are a form of social currency (Holmes & Redmond, 2006; Turner, 2004). Their value lives in their visibility to large audiences to cre ate a cultural framework (Holmes & Redmond, 2006; Langer, 1998). Celebrities create and uphold that framework through establishing, maintaining, and amplifying social norms that are valued from their looks to behavior, even when expectations are unrealisti c (Maltby, Giles, Barber, & McCutcheon, 2005). When celebrities behave extraordinarily or poorly, media publishes it and discusses it, creating conversation fodder as a form of social cohesion (Giles, 2000; Turner et al., 2000). Celebrity moments relatio nships, fashion, arrests become part of the cultural fabric that connects people though some may argue superficially to each other and the society in which they live, which means consumers are watching, listening, and, potentially, absorbing the mess ages they receive which could have negative consequences. This study is interested in celebrity media because of its prevalence in American culture but also because celebrity content contains traditional gender stereotypes, platforms and expansion into social media suggests that it continues to be relevant to consumers as technology and platforms change. It also provides opportunities for increased engagement through watching, reading, sharing with friends and following cele brities online. The target audience of celebrity media is emerging adult women who are in a developmental stage, meaning that these messages may be salient with some


13 of thi s study is to therefore understand if women critically evaluate the feminine stereotypes that are embedded in celebrity media. The goal is to answer that question their per ception of femininity in relationship to celebrity content and the presence of traditional feminine stereotype in celebrity media, and how they apply or reject those messages. Celebrity and Media g well known for his [or her] well concept of well knownness and its basis for celebrity is logical when applied to celebrity media. Boorstin (1961) is essentially saying that any one can become a celebrity as long as he or she finds a way to become well known. To be well known is not necessarily reliant on a talent or accomplishment like fame. Instead, celebrity and this idea of being well known is about access to audiences. Boorst in realized this relationship, prompting his concept of the pseudo event and its role as a publicity vehicle to promote individuals and develop well knownness. Dissemination of information required somewhere for that content to go. Over the past five deca des, the platforms for reaching audiences have increased and evolved, particularly for celebrities who were once confined to celebrity centric publications but now span the entire media spectrum (Turner, 2010). The evolution of technology has led to celebr ities having more and better access to audiences. In the 1970 and 80s, there was the rise of celebrity specific publications like People magazine and National Enquirer , which were built on earlier publications of fan magazines dating back to the 1920s (Hen derson, 1992; Petersen, 2011; Rojek, 2015). Celebrities left the


14 and newspapers. Drake and Micah (2010) refer to this as the celebritization of media, where celebrities moved beyond entertainment and into news and current affairs as humanitarians and political activists. The rise of the internet continued the expansion of celebrity specific with gossip sites like Perez Hilton and PopSugar gaining traction. From lifestyle s to politics, the number of publications and platforms that provide celebrities access to audiences continues to increase. In traditional celebrity journalism, which is what the previous section focused on, an individual needed the publication or news ch annel to publish their content. There is evidence that new technology has extended the possibility for celebrity reach and celebrity influence by removing, or seemingly removing, the mediator. Before social media, celebrities were produced and managed base d on gatekeepers at publications, the only ones showing consumers the glamourous lives of celebrities on the red carpet and paparazzi pictures of celebrities playing at the p ark with their kids, but it was the celebrities themselves giving their fans an inside look into their every day and perhaps ordinary lives in a more authentic and personal manner (Turner, 2010). Social media allows for the public self to be presented as a n interpersonal conversation, deepening TV personality or character as a friend (Horton & Wohl, 1956). Celebrities use of social media to give fans an inside look i nto their lives articulates how the change in technology cultivates the potential for celebrities to influence consumers through seemingly authentic content that is different than previous celebrity media even if


15 celebrity personas are still constructed but by the celebrity rather than a reporter. Social media has also led to different types of celebrities, including micro celebrities like Influencers and platform specific celebrities, i.e. YouTube stars (Senft, 2008). In essence, celebrities are partial ly a product of the expansion of social media, which has provided them with a platform for becoming well known. However, there still must be an investment from consumers and that will vary based on interest and motivation. Traditional celebrity journalism pushed celebrity content onto the audience. Social media celebrity content gave more opportunity for individuals to seek out celebrity content they were interested in and check in, but it took away some privacy to celebrity media consumption. Friends can s ee when a person follows a celebrity or likes content. These once private experiences may become more public. This is relevant to engagement and the goals of the study because the reality is engagement always existed but now there are more ways to engage a nd to do so in a way that lets people know, which may not be a benefit. Some individuals seek out celebrity content, others are exposed to celebrity content through their daily lives without taking much notice, and some actively try to avoid it. The first or looks or to be interested in products or lifestyles promoted by celebrities, whereas the latter group may be influenced to not be interested in something because of celebrities. Celebrity Influence Research in advertising, marketing and even health communication argues that because of their special position as actors, musicians, athletes or e ven just recognizability (Kamins et al., 1989). By the end of the 1990s and start of the 2000s,


16 approximately 25 percent of TV commercials used celebrities, about 10 percent of ad budgets involved celebrity endorsements and as many as 25 percent of America n companies were using celebrities in their ad campaign (Erdogan et al, 2001; Agrawal & Kamakura, 1995; Shimp, 2000). Pepsi is known for using popular musicians and celebrities from Michael Jackson and Madonna to the Kendall Jenner and Cardi B. For its 201 8 Super Bowl commercial, the soda company went back to the future by showcasing many of the celebrities they had used in their previous campaigns (Schultz, 2018). Even insurance company AllState has developed a whole ad campaign starring former pro footbal l player Peyton Manning and country musician Brad Paisley. Celebrity endorsers use their recognition on the behalf of a company or good by appearing in an brought in $110 million , which was 120% increase in endorsement income in just 10 years (Badenhausen, 2010). In 2006, between two and three billion dollars were spent on celebrity endorsements in the United States ( Runyan et al., 2009). Researchers have spent years assessing wh y companies invest so much money in communication featuring celebrities and have found the purpose is to bring increased attention to the products in over saturated markets, make products memorable to audiences (brand recall), and produce identification wi th the product or company through similarities between celebrity and consumer (Erdogan, 1999; Erdogan, Baker, & Tagg, 2001; Chao, Wuhrer & Werani, 2005). The end goal is, of course, to influence attitudes toward a brand or product and increase purchase int entions. However, the success of celebrity endorsers are still mixed depending on if the pairing of the product and celebrity enhances credibility (congruence), identification, and if the use of


17 celebrities increases sales or behavioral changes (Heckler & Childers, 1992). However, the root of the decision is the belief that celebrities will influence audiences. A meta analysis of marketing and advertising research looked at outcomes for celebrity endorsement. From a cognitive perspective, celebrity endor sements across 20 results for recall and recognition of products that were being advertised were more muddied because the celebrity can distract from the product being sol d (Costanzo & Goodnight, 2006). In 35 studies, researchers found an increase in positive attitudes toward the ad and the product when a celebrity endorsed the product compared to no endorsement, particularly when the celebrity matched the endorsed product. However, purchase intention and using a product had fewer clear outcomes when measuring conative effect, meaning that the use of celebrities did not translate into more sales and even stock market evidence did not showcase positive abnormal returns on the cost of using a celebrity in marketing. Celebrity endorsement was more likely to increase a charitable cause or to volunteer (Knoll & Matthes, 2017). Health communication research has studied the use of celebrities to br ing awareness to causes also with mixed results . The Angelina Jolie effect in health communication was touted in mass consumer publications, so awareness was prevalent. When Angelina Jolie made the decision to be tested and undergo surgery for the BRCA1 ge ne, her announcement was more influential on women who already identified with her based on age, race, and family history creating a link between identification with the celebrity and behavioral intention (Kosenko, Binder, & Hurley,


18 2015). Years early, the Katie Couric effect was studied after Couric had a colonoscopy on national television to bring awareness to colon cancer, which resulted in a temporary increase in colonoscopies after the segment aired. However, it was short lived (Cram, Fendrick, Inadomi et al, 2003). These previous studies suggest that celebrities are influential for gaining attention of audiences and have been successfully used to advocate for products, issues and causes because of their recognizability, but that there are nuances to t heir influence. This is important because this study is not suggesting that celebrities are all celebrities may play a role in influencing women because they are recogn izable, so their content cuts through the clutter and has weight. This study is relevant because it seeks to understand celebrity influence based on celebrity interest and within the context of Feminine s tereotypes in c elebrity m ed ia . When it comes to celebrities and feminine stereotypes, female celebrity is articulated through media representations of accepted femininity and represents the privilege of prescriptive femininity. MacDonald (1995) argues that stereotypical representati ons and construction of the female celebrity fall into four popular myths of femininity that reflect those previously stated stereotypes: as enigmatic and threatening, as nurturing and caring, as sexualizing, and as practicing feminine appearance. The last myth is the most apparent in celebrity culture because female celebrity is primarily built on the appearance of the body, which is expected to be thin, young and beautiful focus of visual pleasu re for an apparently masculine spectator, and the epitome of the


19 are used by publicat ions to shame or denounce the celebrity. Publications and even celebrities themselves use femininity to manage their status because it represents the social norms of how women are supposed to behave and creates entertainment that consumers enjoy. Take Ang elina Jolie. Her relationship (Wilson, 2010). Jolie was positioned as the homewrecker and catalyst for the highly publicized Aniston Pitt break mage in the media focused on her deviation from feminine stereotypes and then was rebuilt by the media as a caring humanitarian and mother who adopted and had her own children with Pitt (Repo & Yrjola, 2011; Diamond, 2005). This cycle is key to celebrity u pkeep, where media praise female celebrities when they uphold feminine stereotypes and demonize them when they stray (Wilson, 2010; McDonnell, 2014). Celebrities are a model for the proper performance of gender. Theoretical B asis Uses and gratification pl ays an informative role in this study because U&G is a means for understanding the how and why of consuming celebrity media and is a catalyst for how it is used by consumers in real life. In the case of this study, recall that one purpose of the study is t o understand the motivations women have for consuming within the lives of the consumer based on motivations and media use and potentially if they matter. In essence, why do they consume this content and taking that into


20 consideration for how they may process gendered stereotypes that may have an impact on how they view themselves and other women. Social cognitive theory also plays a significant role in this study be cause in addition to motivations, the research has to consider how women interpret and apply the messages from celebrity content. Social cognitive theory was developed out of Social Learning Theory (Bandura & Walters , 1977), and SLT posits that an individu al is influenced by both the social world and their personal characteristics. Using SLT would suggest that when in individual views someone worthy of emulating (such as a celebrity) that the chances of adopting that behavior would increase. However, SCT ex tends SLT because it takes into consideration that people do not blindly adopt a behavior just because they learn it from watching others. The idea that learning occurs within a social context is a key tenant of SCT. hat environment, and behavior interact to determine whether an action is performed (Bandura, 1986). Emerging adult women who are in the same age bracket bring their personal experiences and background which may in fluence how those messages are interpreted and thus if the belief or behavior is adopted. This study asserts that an congruence with social context and the interest in th e celebrity may all play an important role in whether she accepts or rejects feminine stereotypes that are presented in celebrity media. Social cognitive theory has been studied in relation to identification and parasocial interaction, and the idea that i dentification and time spent with a model


21 increases the likelihood of the viewer enacting the modeled behavior (Bandura, 1986; Basil, 199 6 ). When an individual identifies with a particular celebrity, he or she may be more likely to follow the behaviors mod eled by the celebrity because the identification signals an interest in the celebrity (Basil, 199 6 theory of identification because it proposes that an individual adopts an attitude or behavior from another person tha t is based on satisfying a relationship which could include parasocial relationships with celebrities or in order to fit into a group that is interested in a celebrity. This is supported by marketing and advertising research that suggests that a spokespe rson with whom an audience member identifies with increases the likelihood of achieve lasting attitude or behavior change (Tran, 2013). This was also found in health messages (Basil, 1996). Identification and parasocial interaction are possible consequence s of communication, especially with celebrities coming into the homes of audiences through traditional or social media, entertaining them, and welcoming them into their personal lives (Horton & Wohl, 1956; Rubin & McHugh, 1987). However, the question beco individuals can imitate celebrities to a certain extent by getting a cancer screening (Larson et al, 2005); dieting like their favorite celebrity or to uphold social norms around femininity that may be promoted by their favorite celebrity (Mooney, Farley & Strugnell , 2004 The current ure of this.


22 This study is situated from the perspective that celebrities live very different lives, so the notion of imitation or mimicking based on SCT is limited. This is for three main reasons: 1. Means the amount of money that can be spent on daily essentials as well as extravagant non essentials is unrealistic for the every day person. 2. Lifestyle Differences clothes for awards shows is not common amongst young women 3. Privilege cele brities are afforded privileges unavailable to the everyday person in relation what they can and cannot get away with from a social norms perspective and legally. This does not mean that consumers do not enjoy seeing celebrity content related to this, but it means that many may realize that there are social and economic barrier to some elements of imitation. However, even the extravagant celebrity content is filled with potential messages about what society values, proper behavior and other social norms. Th e key element of Kelman that applies to SCT and celebrity research goes beyond mimicking and focuses on: compliance, identification, and internalization. This is more of an adoption of the beliefs and limited behavior based on identification and how those messages are internalized and then enacted. Those beliefs are learned and processed and then they may inform how women see themselves and their role within society. The question in the context of this study becomes if and how she processes stereotypical f eminine messages and applies them consciously or not. There is evidence that women learn from celebrity media. Young adults report moderate celebrity media consumption, and more than half of the study participants stated that their favorite celebrity had significantly impacted their personal beliefs or had inspired them to do something (Boon & Lomore, 2001). While the study is 19 years old, society


23 has become more saturated with celebrities and a larger variety of celebrity types as well as channels throu gh which audiences can access exists. Over the past two been reflected in the media (Collins, 2011). This study wants to understand if and how these women critically evalua te the feminine stereotypes presented in celebrity media and if that influences their own acceptance of feminine stereotypes. One way to approach if women learn stereotypes from celebrity media and how they process the message is through conversations wit h women where they discuss how they process the content they consume from media. This could include how they ce messages that may be gendered. Since these women live in the real world, it is important to let them lead the conversation about what they consume and how it interacts with their personal Celebrity W orship This s tudy is not interested in intense celebrity worshippers but recognizes that the celebrity attitudes scale that celebrity worship levels have been based on demonstrates the range of interest levels. Celebrity worship is, simply stated, an obsession with one or more celebrities typically as a result of parasocial relationships that can take on an addictive component leading to more extreme behaviors to satisfy the relationship (McCutcheon, Lange & Houran, 2002). Celebrity worship exists on a continuum from en tertainment social, where celebrities are used as a way to connect with friends; to intense personal relations with the celebrity; to borderline pathological, where individuals isolate


24 themselves from in person relations and become fully involved in the celebrity, including adopting their beliefs and trying to be like the celebrity (Maltby et al., 2002; McCutcheon, Lange & Houran, 2002). The three dimensional scale is based on the Celebrity Attitud e Scale. While celebrity worship covers a range of celebrity interest levels, it is associated with the more negative connotation and extreme pathological interest in celebrities. Studies have suggested the higher level of celebrity worship are associated with poorer mental well being including fantasy proneness and disassociation (Maltby et al, 2001). Children and adolescents are more prone to idolizing sports figures, singers and other celebrities and is considered a normal part of identity development ( Giles & Maltby, 2004). However, worshipping has been noted to decrease with age especially as individuals move into adulthood (Raviv et al., 1996; Maltby et al, 2004). Celebrity worship when present tends to be carried over from adolescence, and it has bee n projected that about 10 percent of adults fall into this celebrity worshipper level (Hyman & Sierra , 2010 ). This is a relatively small percentage. The entertainment social celebrity worship, which includes an attraction to celebrity based on entertainme nt or social values, and lower levels of interest in celebrities is where this research is focused and not associated with the clinical measures. While those who do remain celebrity worships can experience significant behavioral effects and be ostracized b y society, the goal is not to look at the extreme levels of individuals who interact with celebrities. This study is focused on emerging adult women who have a general interest in celebrities and those who are exposed to celebrities through everyday life b ecause they will be more likely to showcase the


25 nuanced influence celebrities may or may not have over their beliefs about femininity to separate their personal experi ences, thoughts and feelings from those of their favorite celebrities (Giles, 2000). Celebrity M edia Criticism Celebrity media has been criticized. Some say increased public interest in celebrity content is part of the dumbing down of both news and the c onsumers (Franklin, 1997). People who enjoy celebrity news can be embarrassed or dismissive of this behavior, which may be a result of being portrayed as miserable, lonely or even cultural dupes because of their celebrity consumption habits (Feasey, 2008; Jensen, 1992). Sometimes included with the criticism that celebrity news is making audiences dumber is that celebrity content distracts from more important news (Couldry et al., 2007). Neil Postman (1985) addressed news distraction in relation to entertain ment warned about the dangers of entertainment and infotainment over what he considered to be more important information. There is a capitalist element to celebrity news that has been studied because celebrity news is often associated with consumption (i.e. you need this dress or how to look like a celebrity with this make up), which promotes consumerist values (Cashmore, 2006; Marshall, 2006). Popular culture relies on gender ste reotypes and may be partially to blame for women (Coltrane & Adams, 1997; Ganahl, Prinsen & Netzley, 2003; MacNaughton, 1996). This study, based on previous research, posits that young emerging adult women may be unwittingly learning, modeling, and reinforcing traditional femininity


26 found in celebrity content, and that celebrities may have an outsized influence over these audiences even if the messages contradict the audiences may have with celebrities and is one of the reasons why celebrity interest will be studied. This study is seeking to understand if wo men are critical of the messages in celebrity media and the possible influence it may have related to promoting and reinforcing feminine stereotypes.


27 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Media as Socialization of Gender Media are one of the channels for gender socialization related to appearance, behavior, and social roles because it shapes how men and women are perceived and the expectations placed on them within society (Adoni, 1979; Arnett, 2007; Dubow, Huesmann & Greenwood, 2007). Despite the fact tha t societally women are gaining more education and entering professional fields, this is not necessarily reflected in media though there have been improvements in some areas. The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media has been tracking gender presentati on for about 16 years. In 2010, they found media depicted only 32% of female characters with jobs. In comparison, men were depicted almost twice (58%) as often as having jobs in 21 first run general audience (G rated) films they studied from 2006 2009. Acr oss more than 300 speaking characters in those films, not one female is depicted in the medical sciences, executive business suites, legal world, or political arena (Geena Davis Institute, 2010). The institute expanded its research and looked at presentati on of STEM characters from 2007 to 2017 in TV/cable programs featuring STEM characters and the top 100 grossing films featuring a STEM character(s). The study found almost two thirds (62.9 percent) of the characters with STEM careers were male and only 37. 1 percent were female. The updated research did not mention if those characters had speaking roles. One of the areas highlighted in their research was that that male and female characters were both presented as competent in their STEM field (Geena Davis In stitute, 2018). In 2019, the institute updated its popular films study and found that men still far outpace women as leads (60.9 percent to 39.1 percent). They also found that


28 female characters were six times more likely to be featured in revealing clothes and less likely to be shown in positions of leadership, though there was a better balance than previously (53.6% of male characters compared to 46.1% of female) (Geena Davis Institute, 2019). Over the years, more women have entered STEM fields in Hollywoo d, which reflects societal changes as well, but women still play a smaller role in movies and TV shows and continue to be sexualized. Gender representation has a trickle down effect beyond the fictional world of dramas and sitcoms. The Geena Davis Institute found in a survey of women that in addition to the influence that teachers, friends and family have on their careers that seeing wom en in STEM careers in the media was important to them and has influenced their own pursuits of STEM majors and careers (2018). When it comes to gender presentation and stereotypes, Dyer (1979) finds that biographies and other texts have shown how Hollywood has transferred movie standards of masculinity and femininity onto actors and actresses in the real lives of celebrities. Su Holmes (2006) revisited within in the modern w orld of reality television and found similar narratives being applied relationships and their role as (good) mothers in addition to their work as actresses, musicians, and entr brand (Jermyn, 2008; Moir, 2015). Readers and viewers consume narratives of real people in newspapers, magazines, and TV interviews the same way they consume narratives about character. T he line between real and make believe is a bit more blurred with celebrities because celebrity is built structurally on the junction of


29 characters (Wood, Corbett & Fl inders, 2016). Uses and Gratifications Theory Wimmer and Dominick (1994) propose that uses and gratifications began in the 1940s as a shift to research interested in why audiences engage in different forms of media behavior. Herta Herzog is often credited as the originator of the uses and gratifications approach to research, though not for naming it (Baran & Davis, 2012). She was interested in how and why people, specifically housewives, listened to the radio. She found three major types of gratification: gratification concerns the advice obtained from listeni Lazarsfeld (Katz, 2001) who sought to understand the effect of media on audiences, depth examination of media gratifications by those who listen and a sense of understanding through th eir reasons for listening and experiences with the content their uses and gratifications. Much like early U&G research, it was descriptive and sought to classify responses of audience members into categories that were meaningful (Katz & Lazarsfeld, 1955; Lazarsfeld, Berelson & Gaudet, 1948). The research became more sophisticated in the two decades that followed because the studies were rooted in social and psychological variables (Wimmer & Dominick, 1994). This includes Katz and Foulkes (1962) conceptua lization of mass media as a form of escape, radio as a form of companionship and mood modeling (Mendelsohn, 1964), and social class as an influencer and predicter of how teens use TV as an


30 informal source of learning (Greenberg & Dominick, 1969). This move d the audience into more of an active role rather than a passive recipient of content (Klapper, 1963). U&G research over time added motivations and the satisfactions that media provided as part of their base. This included awareness that different cognitiv e and affective states would influence media use (Blumler, 1979). A key element of this study is understanding the motivation for consuming celebrity content because it may fulfill an interest or a need for the individuals. Although U&G is criticized for i ts individualism, there may be underlying similarities between individuals who have the same motivations for consumption which should be taken into consideration (Finn, 1997). Individuals will consume content dealing with politics or celebrity or health with different purposes and that will result in different gratifications based on needs. Whether gratifications allow the individuals to report on their subjective reasons for consuming, and experiences with and interpretations of the content (Windahl, 1994). It also gives respondents an opportunity to contextualize how they experience content and apply it. Qualitative approaches allow researchers to capture and catalogue those reasons at the interests. Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch (1974) posits that there are five basic assumptions of the uses and gratifications model: 1. The audience is activ e and its media use is goal oriented. This may be as simple as having a preferred medium in given media situations or preferred type of content, like entertainment and celebrity content because it is seemingly light hearted or mindless.


31 2. The initiative in linking need gratification to a specific media choice rests with the audience member. Essentially that the media and its player cannot force someone to consume its content. Rather individuals make decisions. 3. The media compete with other sources for need s atisfaction. Media is merely one channel seeking the attention of an audience. They have other ways of being entertained and other messages occurring in their environment that has an impact on them. 4. People are aware enough of their own media use, interest s, and motives to be able to provide researchers with an accurate picture of their use. Though self reporting is debated from a methodological perspective for several reasons, it is argued that as more media options become available individuals are aware o f their use and choices. They decide what they want from the various platforms and channels. Though the implicit messages and deeper reasons for being interested may be less obvious to the individual. 5. needs to specific media or content should be suspended. The idea is that individuals use the same content in different ways. Research may suggest that the ways individuals use it is always negative, but that may not necessarily be the case. This is because individuals construct their own meaning based on their environment and their individual experiences. There are factors that influence audience members awareness of media use and its possible effects. Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch (1974) argued the social s ituations people are experiencing or living in can influence their media related needs. Uses and gratifications is focused on how members of a society personally and actively determine their needs and expectations through media choices. Defining Celebrity well are individuals whom society has collectively taken an interest in based on talent, but it contradicts the previous definition because it uses talent as a basis for attention (Currid Halkett, 2010). Celebrities have also been defined as individuals who have been elevated, though how celebrities are elevated is not clear, and whose lives are


32 celebrated through public channels like TV, radio, newspapers, social media, podcasts, and more (Marshall, 1997). All three of those definitions showcase different elements of celebrity without complete explication for what celebrity entails for a holi stic definition. The goal of explication is to clearly define and outline a concept and operationalize it (Chaffee, 1991). The definition of celebrity that will be used for this study is: A celebrity is a person who becomes well known, especially within en tertainment. Celebrities, for this study, in the entertainment industries are of concern because they may have an outsized influence because of their general prominence across a broad audience, which results in their effect on celebrity consumers. While e ntertainment celebrities primarily emerge out of TV shows, movies, sports, and music, their influence goes beyond the entertainment sphere (Boorstin, 1961; Choi & Berger, 2010). This study also recognizes the rise of the micro celebrities, such as Instagra m influencers and YouTube stars, who have emerged over the past decade. The question whether focusing on traditional entertainment celebrities or social media celebrities becomes whether individuals are critical of messages in celebrity content. Messag es may be more salient for some women who express celebrity worship or have a parasocial relationship with the famous individuals and thus they may be less critical. While celebrity influence is often positioned based on prominence, the message influence m combined with interest in celebrities. Characteristics of Celebrity C ontent Celebrity news is both information about celebrities usually about their private lives, which includes rel ationships and also their influence in the news, such as taking on causes or supporting political figures or campaigns. Starting with the content,


33 celebrity news focuses on personal over professional and particularly publishes stories about the lifestyle s of celebrities ( Gorin and Dubied, 2011 ). It oscillates between showcasing a glamorous unachievable life and one that is similar to those of the audience to ground the celebrity in a false sense of reality just like us type articles (Gorin & Dubied, 2011). In addition, love life, family, and children are prominent topics (Becker, 2013). Celebrity influence has moved beyond fashion and feuds and into political news though scholar Amy Becker (2013) argues this is not new. Celebrities have used their social capital and celebrity status to encourage politicians, donors, world organizations, and everyday people to take an interest in causes (Bourdieu, 2001; Traub, 2008). Content wise social media are a cross between celebrity insight an d advertising. This is because celebrities are able to publish their information about their private and professional lives like magazines, newspapers, and websites. However, this content is still highly curated, and the celebrities have some control over how they are represented and their lives interpreted (Khamis et al., 2017). Marwick and Boyd (2011) describe celebrity social media as an attempt by celebrities to give audiences a backstage pass to their lives, through seemingly candid photos and raw cont ent that aims to create an intimate and personal connection. From an advertising perspective, celebrities bring product experience. Social media offer an opportunity fo r celebrities to discuss topics of their choice (Kassing & Sanderson, 2010). Uses and gratifications posits that individuals seek out different types of media content to fulfill needs. Thus, women may be the primary target audience of celebrity


34 content, b ut some women may reject it and others seek it out. The need they express to in the celebrity, the type of content the celebrity posts, or even whether they are surrou nded by people who prioritize or mock celebrity content. The benefit and the limitation of U&G is that the theory allows for nuanced responses between audience members. This first research questions are seeking to understand content the women are intereste d in and their motivations for consuming. Motivations for C onsuming As news sales were decreasing in the magazine world, magazines were urged to publish celebrity news to satisfy a voracious demand for celebrity content from audiences to mirror the succes s of celebrity publications like People , US Weekly , and InStyle (Farzad, 2005). The idea was that consumers were interested in celebrities and would pay for publications that would give them the inside scoop. The success of that strategy, however, even for celebrity publications, slowed as the 2000s has worn on and celebrities have been able to publish their own material through social media. InTouch Weekly Star Magazine People StyleWatch declined by 32.8% (Alliance for Audited Media, 2014). A few magazines had modest growth between 3% and 8%, including People and US Weekly . Celebrity content is increasing. Clo se to 16% of teenagers and young adults (ages 16 24) discover new brands or products through celebrity endorsements ( GlobalWebIndex , 2017), and close to 20% of brands use celebrity endorsement (Dix, Phau & Pougnet, 2010). What changed were the channels thr ough which they consumed the celebrity news. Celebrity news sites like Daily Mail increased the amount of time young adults


35 spend reading online news, and it has been because of its focus on celebrities (Reuters, 2017). Social media also emerged to allow c elebrities to post their own content. For celebrity content, 91% of young adults get their information from social sources with 77% reporting they use an original reporting source, and 49% a curated source (American Press Institute, 2015). It is not wheth er young people are consuming celebrity content -some are and young women who are more likely to be influenced by the messages and more accepting of feminine stereotypes b ecause of their reason for consuming. Social cognitive theory provides a framework for understanding where motivation may come from based on a combination of environment and personal experiences and how it may play into the influence celebrities have on so me content consumers. Motivation comes in two primary forms: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic Motivation The colloquial definition of intrinsic motivation is described as doing something because a person wants to do something or is interested in somethi ng. Intrinsic 1980; Gillet, Vallerand, Amoura, & Baldes, 2010). Internal motivations may manifest as enthusiasm while engaging in a task. The self determination of intrin sic motivation produces positive outcomes (Gillet, Vallerand, Amoura, & Baldes, 2010). When individuals are intrinsically motivated, they are competent and self determined while also experiencing enjoyment and interest in what they are undertaking (Deci & Ryan, 1985).


36 Intrinsic motivation is related to mass media consumption. Enjoyment is a primary emotion associated with watching television or listening to music, and thus is seen as a motivator (Vorderer, Klimmt & Ritterfield, 2004). However, there are ot her psychological emotions that can emerge that may be just as intrinsically motivating as enjoyment or may manifest as enjoyment in a different form (Ryan & Deci, 2000; Tamborini, Bowman, Eden, Grizzard, & Organ, 2010). Intrinsic motivation does not have to be strictly for pleasure. Two primary intrinsic motivators when it comes to mass media consumption, which includes celebrity content, are entertainment and mood management. Entertainment Entertainment is associated with play and is a light hearted distraction to daily life (Green, Brock, & Kaufman, 2004). While enjoyment is at the core of mass media experienci ng suspense or relief or watching something uplifting or depressing (Oliver & Bartsch, 2011). The intrinsic purpose is to conjure a feeling within the individual that they are seeking through experiencing their chosen form of entertainment. Entertainment c an take the form of watching videos, listening to music or audio shows, or reading content across platforms. Mood m anagement Celebrity content has mood management capabilities. Intrinsic motivation for consuming celebrity content is not associated with o nly positive emotions or day dreaming. Viewers use tragedy and somber plots lines of movies to learn to cope with failure or death by experiencing this through others who can guide them in acceptance (Grodal, 2007). The same could be said for celebrity con tent. Consumers use celebrities


37 as their emotional outlet (Holt & Thompson, 2004; Parrott, 1993), or the opposite effect can occur, where audiences have a sense of relief through the better them than me attitude (Turner, 2010). Responses are affective. Whe n audiences use celebrity content to positively improve their mood, they return for similar effect, creating a dependency. Using celebrities as mood management follows the principle of operant conditioning, where the initial encounter with celebrities was random but positive or fulfills a need, and it motivates the individual to repeat the activity (Zillman, 1998). This increases the likelihood of another repeat encounter. Both entertainment and mood management are based on intrinsic motivation that seeks to meet the needs of individuals and produce a pleasurable experience that primarily benefits them on a personal level. Escapism Escapism is used in celebrity news as a way to pivot readers between reality and imagination. Celebrities are presented in a manner that combines the ordinary with the extraordinary in an easy to digest manner but removed from the individual in a fantasy type way (Dyer, 1979). Escapism is the primary reason for reading gossip magazines (Hatfield, 2012). Celebrity role models wer e established by participants based on the balance of being similar but yet serving as fantasy, through the women enjoying a break from their day to day lives to see what a $300 dress looks like in the celebrity world while still shopping at their preferre d discount shops (Hatfield, 2012). There is a suspension of disbelief or disconnection from their current life that takes place in order to be transported to this place of escape (Potter, 2009). Escapism acts as a distraction. Consumers use celebrities to fulfill diversion needs (Ruggiero, 2000). This is achieved by allowing individuals to escape from the


38 mundane by embodying a celebrity as an emotional outlet. Identification is also an element of escape because it refers to the need for an individual t o construct or enhance her identity and values through envisioning herself as the celebrity or placing with celebrity news because it provides a positive experience. Intri nsic motivation is rooted in personal interest. When it comes to media, individuals may consume content to be entertained, to experience a certain mood, or to escape from reality, which are all driven by a personal motivation to consume and achieve a certa in feeling that is part of U&G Theory. Since intrinsic motivation is a personal desire to consume celebrity content, it may be a product of already accepting a message based on previous experiences or environment unlike when celebrity consumption is a prod Extrinsic Motivation Extrinsic motivation is the external force of doing something because someone wants the individual to do it, or the individual does it because it will bring social or f inancial benefits. Extrinsic motivation is more goal oriented (Deci & Ryan, 1980). An economic reward; better standing; or improved reputation among peers, community, or co workers that can lead to more active participation in a group and reciprocation of information are benefits of extrinsic motivation (Beer & Nohria, 2000; Davenport & Prusak, 1998; Fehr & Gachter, 2000; Wasko & Faraj, 2005). Extrinsic motivations related to mass media consumption or production focuses on social clout. Playing video games or watching the same shows as friends results in autonomy and relatedness (Przybylski, Rigby, & Ryan, 2010; Sheldon & Filak, 2008). Consuming news content can also regulate social behavior (Funk, Beaton, &


39 Alexandris, 2012). When it comes to celebrities, similar autonomy and behavior regulation occurs but also the opportunity to be an opinion leader through having specialized knowledge (Boxleitner, 2007). From the perspective of uses and gratifications theory, celebrity media consumers may be using their e nvironment to motivate themselves or stimulate their interest in celebrity content. Extrinsic motivations for consuming celebrity content are social cohesion, social pressure, and aspiration. Social c ohesion Sharing celebrity news gives emerging adult wo men a foundation for building relationships with classmates, coworkers, and friends. While celebrity news has been used to form parasocial relationships between an individual and a celebrity, it can also be used beyond an imagined community and into a real community of women (Bird, 1992; Giles, 2000). Using celebrity news as a form of social cohesion is in line with how women communicate with one another through gossip and as a way of learning about eloping a shared cultural foundation when the day to Hermes, 1997; Johansson, 2006). Celebrity content sharing creates social cohesion because group membership is enacted, reclaimed, and produced b ased on inclusion of those who consume celebrity news (Gluckman, 1963). A primary path to creating social cohesion is through conversation fodder. Using celebrity content creates a common dialogue between women. Profiles of celebrities provide recognizabl e faces and commonality for people to connect with both celebrities and one another (Allan, 2004). Readers of celebrity news use this trivia as a way of gaining respect and acceptance among other women (Feasey & Ashton, 2010). They also admitted that this knowledge gave them power both within established social


40 settings with friends and among wider social circles, such as their offices, because it is a way of connecting with like minded women (Feasey & Ashton, 2010). Celebrity news acts as a way to connect women with other women and with societal standards as a whole, thus creating a dependency on that type of content. Social pressure Reading celebrity content is like other forms of social grooming. People consume celebrity content because their friends are doing it (Tufekci, 2008). Social pressure is the negative counterpart of social cohesion. When asked why they consume celebrity news, one woman said because everyone is reading and enjoying gossipy stories, and another woman said she wanted to keep up wit h what was going on and that every woman is into celebrity content (Couldry & Markham, 2007). The women also felt the need to consume it, even a woman who bashed it for being trashy because it gave them a social connection (Couldry & Markham, 2007). Social pressure may also exist not to consume celebrity news because of its low brow status, which is why some people may be reluctant to discuss celebrity news (McDonnell, 2014). From a uses and gratifications perspective, the negative connotations with celebri ty news may mean the individual may affect the engagement and use of celebrity content. Aspiration Aspiration with celebrities manifests itself in two ways. The fir st is by suggesting individuals want to become celebrities. When asked, only 3% to 5% of female and male participants expressed wanting to be famous (Sugden, 2011). The second form in which celebrity aspiration manifests is through wanting to be like a cel ebrity. Celebrities become models for consumers to emulate (McCracken, 1989). Consumers who aspire


41 to be like celebrities may make efforts to build and maintain relationships with celebrities. The relationships require celebrity news engagement, which tran sports and immerses the consumer into the physical, social, and emotional world of the celebrity (Green, Brock, & Kaufman, 2004). The latter option of learning to be like a celebrity is reinforced through articles that act as a script for how celebrities d ress and behave, and achieving this similarity is gratifying to the consumer (Hollander, 2010). Aspiration is not the same as mimicking in most cases but more of a form of desire. This is important because as noted there are economic and social barriers th at exist. Consuming celebrity content is simplified into intrinsic and extrinsic motivations and allows for multiple possible motives that are primarily rooted in either personal or societal drive. Intrinsic motivation means the consumption of celebrity n ews is the personal goal, but for extrinsic motivation, consuming celebrity content is a means to an end or a form of social currency (Calder & Malthouse, 2010). Understanding a young ant for answering the question of why they are following celebrity news and exploring the influence it may have on her to critically evaluate it. Based on celebrity content and its relationship with female audiences, research question one asks: RQ1: What motivates women to consume celebrity content? Participants may comment that they like following a certain celebrity like Lizzo because everyone is talking about her or they watch shows like TMZ to keep up with celebrity news. Those motivations are extrins ic. An area where this may be complicated that content. For example, if she reads People magazine at the hair salon, she may be


42 participating in entertainment seeking because there is nothing else to do. This is intrinsic. However, she may have selected this publication from a host of options and thus, why she picked it over avoided it might be an extrinsic reason. There will be nuances of determining intrinsic and extrinsic motivations that interviewing will help dig deeper into the why. Social Cognitive Theory Social cognitive theory is built on an agentic perspective that individuals act independently to make decisions (Bandura, 1986). However, personal agency op erates within structural confounds of social influences. In essence, individuals are neither mindless followers of the environment nor of their inner dialogue. They are active players in what influences them and what they internalize. Humans are producers and products of social systems (Bandura, 1986). It is not simply being exposed to a stimulus. Individuals explore and manipulate the environment and are influenced based on the relationship they have or establish with the world around them that gives insig hts 1988; Eisenberg, 1995). Social cognitive theory while built on agency takes a more dialectical approach when it comes to the relationship between agency and stru cture because it recognizes that society forms individuals who create society in a loop (Berger & Luckmann, 1967). This is an interactive agency (Bandura, 1999a). There is reciprocal causation, action, cognitive, affective, and other personal factors that interact with environmental events that act as determinants for behavior as well as thoughts. Social this study will follow its lead by recognizing that there are indiv idual, environmental and behavioral elements that influence how individuals perceive celebrity content.


43 Emergence of Social Cognitive Theory Social learning theory is connected to both psychology and the philosophy of science. Its relationship with psychology is more straightforward because social learning theory seeks to understand human behavior through information processing (Bandura, 1989; Zimmerman, 1989). The idea was that individuals, particularly children, would see a behavior (modeling), abs orb it, and repeat it (Bandura et al, 1961). From a philosophy of science perspective, social learning theory is situated in relation to its grounding in constructivist epistemology, where individuals are active agents for constructing knowledge. In other words, rather than merely mimicking what one sees, the individual selectively constructs her rendition of reality (Mischel, 1973). The addition of cognition to a learning theory places more focus on the influential contribution of mental processes, which a re paramount for human motivation, affect, and action, while still remaining rooted in its social origins (Bandura, 1997). This study is rooted in SCT seeking general izability because SCT notes that each individual will process a stimulus differently. Applied to G ender Social cognitive theory is associated with gender role development, and is based in sociology and psychology. Sociological based theories emphasize the social construction of gender at an institutional level (Lorber, 1984; Berger, Rosenholtz & Zelditch, 1980; Epstein, 1988). Psychology based theories emphasize cognitive construction of gender conceptions and the transmission of gender characteristics, oft en from family or prominent figures (Baltes & Lindenberger, 2007). While some gender differences are biological, some stereotypic attributes and roles linked to gender are


44 products of cultural design, which are emphasized in theoretical backings of social cognitive theory (Beall & Sternberg, 1993; Epstein, 1997). Thus, social cognitive theory posits that gender conception and role behavior are products of a broad network of influences. d gender, the focus is on the institutional construction and upholding of cultural norms of gender roles (Bandura, 1997). From a cognitive developmental perspective, children develop stereotypic conceptions of gender from the world in which they live but a re heavily influenced by their parents and peers. During emerging adulthood, individuals are seeking independence from their nuclear family, and parents may be less influential than peers or celebrities on gender roles. The overarching theme between social cognitive theory and gender is that individuals observe others and may be influenced by gendered identification. This identification can be a result of seeing positive outcomes for others performing their gender properly within the social institution of g ender roles. Applied to Media Mass media are a symbolic environment and model vast stereotypes and information about human values, styles of thinking, and behavior patterns. Social ssey & Bandura, 1999). This includes defining what is acceptable of masculine and feminine behaviors. Individuals learn by observing others and processing, especially media models (Bandura, 1983). Because of their use of stereotypes for symbolic modeling, media also reveal misconceptions about occupational pursuits, ethnic groups, minorities, the elderly, social and sex roles, and other areas (Buerkel Rothfuss & Mayes, 1981; Bussey & Bandura, 1999; McGhee & Frueh, 1980).


45 Defining Femininity and Feminine St ereotypes Despite femininity and masculinity being well established terms in the human vernacular, there is a lack of formal definitions, and the terms are generally untheorized (Connell & Messerschmidt, 2005; Pyke & Johnson, 2003; Spence & Buckner, 1995; van Zoonen, 1994). Men and women are able to identify that masculine and feminine concepts are meaningful, but they have a difficult time articulating the definition without identifying one of their own valued characteristics that is gendered, such as men talking about how they are good leaders or their role as the head of a household (Spence & use observable physical characteristics for males and females and what is in lin e with feminine and masculine appearance rather than characteristics or descriptions of femininity and masculinity (Spence & Buckner, 1995). Feminine stereotypes are thought to disadvantage and limit women through creating narrow, distorted, and even harm ful images of women that are propagated, maintained, and reinforced through media and beyond. However, society has changed over time and potentially the view of femininity. Normative I deal W oman The ideals of how women should look or act are powerful yet subtle ways through which women are controlled and limited by society as a form of cultural oppression (Schippers, 2007; Baker Sperry & Grauerholz, 2003). Normative ideals are expressed through images, text, and conversations in the media and among friends and family implicitly and explicitly. These ideals are learned and evaluated based on how media amplify the importance of normative femininity and how audiences respond to them. Social cognitive theory notes that expectations are a key tenant of the the ory.


46 Individuals anticipate consequences or benefits to behaviors they have performed or, in the case of media effects, have learned vicariously related to gender. Normative feminine ideals covered in previous research fall into three primary categories: appearance, social roles, and sexual objectification. Appearance Appearance is a mechanism for establishing and upholding feminine norms. age, and what they wear (Jaco bi & Cash, 1994). The ideal appearance of women in the United States is based on the Western standard: white, thin, young, and blond, though typed than predicted. For example, women describe the ideal woman as being as masculine as the ideal man. However, men describe the ideal woman as being less masculine than the ideal man (Deutsch & Gilbert, 1976; Elman, Press & Rosenkrantz, e with that finding. She notes that the concept of ideal womanhood as a product of femininity is more prescriptive than what is held by women about women (Bem, 1981). But yet, media hold onto and amplify ideal femininity for women that is sometimes at odds terms of looks (Swami et al., 2011). This is key to understanding how young women understand femininity. Even though celebrities represent socially normative, unrealistic standards of appearance, there is an as sociation between celebrity content consumption and dissatisfaction with typical body appearance of women (Maltby, Giles, Barber, & behavioral capability. Behavioral capab


47 can successfully perform a behavior makes it more salient. So, despite unrealistic goals, when a celebrity shares her diet or a magazine breaks down the five exercises a celebrity swears by, it may set in to motion that the every day woman should be able to do those and achieve the celebrity appearance even though the individual may recognize there is more to the exercise regime. In addition, the reinforcement that women should be thin and dress certain w ays adds to behavioral capability based on learn she may experience body or appearance dissatisfaction. This study is not addressing this concept directly by askin g women about body dissatisfaction because the research is already there. Instead, this is a factor of listening to and understanding how women accept feminine standards around appearance in conversation in relationship to interest in celebrities, motivati on to consume celebrity content, and how engaged individuals are in celebrity content. Sexual O bjectification of W omen promotes a patriarchal hierarchy (Booth, 1999; Fredrickson & Rob erts,1997). Women are over sexualized under the guise of stereotypical femininity through stiletto heels, heavy makeup, revealing clothes, posing them in ways that emphasize certain body parts, and using them as decoration for men (Attwood, 2009; Dobson, 2 011; McRobbie, degrades them into sex objects, which is limiting to women seeking equality. Media also represent women as submissive to men. Part of the submissive role can includ e presenting women as demure and innocent virgins. In both instances, women are positioned in subordinate positions, which plays to a heteronormative culture. Sexual


48 objectification also happens internally and contributes to mental health issues in women, including increased depression and sexual dysfunction (Bartky, 1990; Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). Depictions of women in commercials, primetime TV, movies, music videos, magazines, video games, and Internet sites show women being sexualized and objectif ied more than men (The American Psychological Association, 2007). Similar to behavioral capability. Media are used to reinforce and, to some extent, amplify sexual objectiv ation as acceptable through stereotyping women as vixens or virgins through roles and dress. Social R oles of W omen The construction of femininity identity influences the social roles of women based on a traditional division of labor and expectations for women versus men (Diekman & Eagly, 2008; Eagly, Wood, & Johannesen functions are a result of social conditions that assign different labor tasks (Eagly & Wood, 1999). The stereotypical belief is that women are more communa l and less agentic (Bem, 1974; Broverman, Vogel, Broverman, Clarkson & Rosenkrantz, 1972). Women perform roles such as teacher and nurse that encompass traits related to being caring or compassionate, which become internalized at the societal level as wome work (Wood & Eagly, 2012). Masculinity is associated with leadership and independence (Bakan, 1966; Eagly, 1987). As a result, men tend to hold higher status jobs than women, which include higher pay, more authority, and more respect (Brown, 1979).


49 So cial roles are defined by social expectations of women, based on traits and, in some cases, tradition. There is an inherent association between jobs like nursing and th e family. Roles are learned through personal experiences and environment. Some women may have more of maternal drive based on her own family growing up or from the roles she has seen female friends and family hold. SCT suggests there is an external expecta tion that reinforces the relationship that society may place on women to be mothers, such as women being asked about their ability to balance work and achievement focused positio The previous sections discussed the relationship between SCT and traditional normative femininity. Femininity, from appearance to social roles, is a complicated construct that SCT simply could categor ize as observational learning, processing and application. However, it is more complicated than a direct translation from seeing to adopting. First, social cognitive posits that messages are not just received, but that they are processed individually in re lation to other messages and experiences. Processing and message acceptance or rejection may be influenced by self efficacy confidence that she can perform her gender in line with social expectation. If she believes she may be able to perfor m and is interested in performing femininity in the socially prescribed way from celebrity media, the message may be more salient because it takes into account not just a willingness but an active decision to apply and accept certain feminine stereotypes o ver others. Second, as society evolves women may be becoming more aware of stereotypes and redefining femininity for themselves


50 but rather they see womanhood differently because of shifts in media representations and women in their own life. RQ2: How do young women define femininity in relation to traditional stereotypes? Understanding how eme rging adult women today define femininity and what has led to that perspective will provide background information on potential influences to her own perception of femininity and possibly whether she notices stereotypical messages or not. For example, wome n who define femininity more traditionally may be less critical of celebrity messages that include stereotypical femininity because it is more normalized. She, however, may notice more when women deviate from her own definition. It also provides a baseline of what the word means to emerging women in Stereotype Activation Stereotypes are beliefs about social groups based on linked attributes that perception, thinking, remembering, learning, and behavior toward themselves and others (Brewer, 19 8 9; Fiske, 1998). In order to participate in stereotyping, two conditions must be met (Brewer, 19 8 9). The first is a set of beliefs or mental representations of different social categories must be developed. This is the availability of a stereotype. Second, there must be a conscious or unconscious classification of individuals into those categories. When these classifications are a product of stimuli or cues, t hey are referred to as activated (Allport, 1954).


51 Activating a stereotype requires more than just encountering a member of a stereotyped group, like women, for most individuals (Blair, 2002; Devine, 1989). First, SCT notes that stereotypes must be learned in order for there to be something to be activated . When tested whether gender alone triggered stereotypes, stereotype activation did not occur (Blair & Banaji, 1996). Activation follows exposure sometimes repeated exposure to stereotypic information, which then leads individuals to rely on broader st ereotypes about the socially acceptable roles of women and proper behavior including appearance. Stereotype activation for femininity occurs when the participants receive information about a woman that aligns with traditional feminine norms (Blair & Bana ji, 1996). Television ads, news coverage, or speeches that link female candidates with feminine stereotypes are subtle ways stereotypes become more salient and are activated, leading voters to make other stereotype based inferences that may suggest she is or is not fit for the role (Prentice & Carranza, 2002). This may be transferable across fields and could extend to celebrity research, which often promotes feminine stereotypes implicitly and explicitly. However, the research related to stereotype activa tion also notes that there is a level of processing that happens because while an individual may have learned a stereotype and had it reinforced; it is not always applied. This relates back to SCT because the theory suggests that ndly conform to information they receive, but they evaluate it and decide. In the case of stereotypes, the activation may occur but then it may be overridden because of personal experiences or the stereotype may be confirmed. Those who are less exposed to more limited views of femininity may be at more of a risk


52 of accepting stereotypes that are reinforced by media and their environment related to stereotypical femininity. Acceptance of s tereotypes . Stereotypes exist in relation to groups, whether it i s differences exist, comfort with thinking about groups in abstract terms, willingness to use information about group memberships in conducting interpersonal relations, and the Hall, Carney & Resip, 2005). In essence, stereotypes are known and appl ied either in person or abstractly when thinking about a group and can be applied to oneself. This study is seeking to understand if there is evaluation and acceptance or rejection of stereotypes, recognizing there may be social desirability at play. Thro ugh interviewing individuals and talking about their interests in celebrity media, their professional and personal goals, and their families, there is opportunity for participants to offer comments. These comments may provide background from their social e nvironment and its potential influence on whether they rebuff, accept or even simply The following research question provides an open approach to understanding how women per ceive their acceptance or rejection of femininity. RQ3 : How do young women view their personal acceptance or rejection of femininity? Emerging Adulthood & Women The age range for emerging adult women in this study is 18 to 24 years old. From a social pe rspective, emerging adults are changing and developing. This includes


53 forming new social groups, experiencing new types of romantic relationships, encountering new beliefs separate from their nuclear family units, and thinking about their future careers ba sed on the reality of their skills and talents (Erikson, 1950; are influenced by their peers, teachers, employers and media as their brain develops, from understanding risks and consequences based on personal and vicarious learning (Perry, 1999). This is not to say that all emerging adults are influenced to the same extent. Some may be more vulnerable and thus more susceptible to messages. However, their brain is processing in formation and changing during this period because of an interaction between genetically predetermined and environmentally provoked processes (Bennett & Baird, 2006). Social cognitive theory is not age specific. However, it does focuses on how individuals acquire, process and act on influences. All individuals process information; however, because emerging adults are experiencing new environments and combining them with past experiences and beliefs, the processing may be more trial and error or figuring out how to apply previous experiences to new ones. Media use among emerging adults . As media change, so does their audience. Uses and gratifications research has shown that individuals seek out different content and platforms based on which will fulfill a ne ed. In 2018, the Pew Research Center reported that 88% of 18 to 29 year olds use at least one form of social media. That drops to 78% for ages 30 49, 64% for ages 50 to 64 and 37% for Americans older than 65. Twitter is used more by individuals 18 29 years old than younger teens and older adults. Some of the newer platforms have had younger emerging adults flocking to their


54 platforms (Lenhard, Purcell, Smith & Zickuhr, 2010). Emerging adults between 18 and 24 years old use Snapchat and Instagram more than o ther age groups, with 78% on Snapchat and 71% on Instagram (Smith & Anderson, 2018). This suggests that a large amount of time and interest is invested in social media by this age group, which has an impact on the type of information emerging adults are co nsuming. The American Time Use Survey breaks down how different age groups are using their time, including for labor, household and leisure activities. According to the United States Department of Labor, TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time. Adults 55 years and older consumed the most TV per week, spending around 22 hours per week watching TV. Emerging adults are spending between about 16 hours per week watching TV. However, emerging adults are spending more time with video games thoug h more so for men and social media than their older counterparts (BLS, 2019). Social media are a prime platform for celebrity content though that is just one type of content consumers may be seeking. Uses and gratifications suggests that media use wil l change as platforms change because they serve different purposes and audiences. U&G also provides a structure for motivation that help individuals determine media content and platform that fulfill their needs. Celebrity content is just one channel for me ssages, but understanding the platform that they use to access it may be related to their motivation and the type of content they are able to get thus the messages that are exposed to. Defining Engagement Engagement is a complex term, especially in rela tion to consuming media content. Does watching a show mean someone is engaged with the show and its content? Maybe or maybe not. If the person watches a show and would recommend it


55 to a friend or would be disappointed if the show went off the air, then he or she may be engaged with the content. Those outcomes suggest engagement. Individuals are exposed to celebrity content regularly, which can be misconstrued as engagement. To be engaged with content, whether celebrity, public policy, or even advertising fr om brands, consumers must devote cognitive and potentially emotional resources based on perceived value to them (Scholer & Higgins, 2009). Whether the person decided to recommend to a friend or not is considered a consequence or outcome of engagement or lack thereof but not the engagement itself. So, what does it mean to be engaged or experience engagement in relation to value? Engagement is associated with involvement or being connected with something (Calder & Malthouse, 2008). Involvement can be the product of an experience. Experiences with material, like a magazine, occur when the material runs its course to fulfillment, and then the experience leads the reader somewhere (Dewey, 1980). Experiences are expressed qualitatively and often stand out fro m the stream of other information that exists (Calder, 1994). For example, an individual may read something in a magazine and then use that information in conversation. The story or information stood out, which suggests it was an experience, and the conten t brought value to the consumer because it provides conversation fodder for a future interaction. These combined constitute a form of engagement (Calder & Malthouse, 2008). Media engagement has been defined as four primary types: transportation, irritati on, promotion/prevention, and rejection, within two categories, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (Calder & Malthouse, 2008; Deci & Ryan, 1985).


56 Fig ure 2 1 . F rom Calder & Malthouse, 2008 e versus negative experiences with media, such as a TV show. Transportation is the experience of being absorbed into the content and shutting out the real world (Green & Brock, 2000). It has been studied as a cognitive experience where all mental systems a nd capacities become focused on the information (Green & Brock, 2000). More colloquially it is defined as getting caught up in the content. This is where celebrity worship may exist, but there is a lower level of interest that may also include transportati on as a form of escapism in engaging with celebrity content. When it comes to promotion or prevention, the experience is more goal driven. For promotion, the goal is gain or attain something. It could be aspirational or the position of opinion leader about celebrity knowledge. Prevention is to avoid losses (Higgins, 1997). For example, having celebrity knowledge may be to prevent being left out of a conversation with friend or co workers. In avoidance, there is irritation and rejection. Irritation is when the person wants to avoid the experience, thus a lack of engagement. Rejection is when someone wants something not to happen as a consequence of the experience. If someone sees reading


57 celebrity news as a waste of time because it is trivial, the person is experiencing rejection versus if a person consumes celebrity news but feels frustrated by the focus on their looks, then this person may be experiencing irritation. This has a negative impact on engagement. These four categories of engagement are one way o f distinguishing between engagement types. Discussions have suggested that the sum of motivational experiences people have with those products lead to engagement (Calder & Malthouse, 2008). The word sum implies that there is a certain amount of motivation that leads to engagement. The wording of sum points to a quantitative notion, but it could be argued that studying engagement from a qualitative perspective would be more effective because the individual experience could be more important than a specific n umber of times spent with a product because it uncovers the idiosyncratic experience and motivations of engagement rather than repeated exposure with little cognitive investment. Consumers actively seek out content to follow initially, but it may become ju st a similar to just seeing content can make a conscious decision to interact through liking or commenting or ending that relationship through unfollowing. Understanding when they decide to engage in different ways may help to better understand content they enjoy and to some extent whether or not they are cognizant of the messages and think about the content beyond just thinking it is pretty and if engagement is part of how they select the platforms they prefer. This goes beyond just enjoying content, but understanding how the platform may influence their consumption preference.


58 Types o f Engagement w ith Cel ebrity Content Celebrity content is available in print stories and advertisements, through video entertainment from interviews to documentaries, and online through social media and websites. In addition, celebrities may be a part of conversation with frien ds and families. This presents a myriad of channels through which individuals may engage with celebrity content and types of engagement options. Audience engagement on social media and online is behavior based (Doorn et el., 2010). This behavior is either passive or active, where passive participation is associated with seeing or reading content, and active participation is commenting or creating content (Hutton & Fosdick, 2011). Hutton and Fosdick (2011) studied different online behaviors and ranked them from most passive to most active: Figure 2 2 . Hutton & Fodsick, 2011 The top three social activities online are passive and involve simply consuming information watching, viewing, and reading (Hutton & Fosdick, 2011). The base of this ranking system is that passive behaviors demand less involvement and cognitive processin g in comparison to active engagement. Consumers are more likely to be


59 involved at the passive level (Hutton & Fosdick, 2011). Missing from this list is liking on social media, which could be considered as passive. However, it is beneficial to understand if consumers perceive their behaviors as passive or active beyond a common standard because individuals may be wary of liking content, even though it is and not just a simpl e action. The three areas of engagement this study is most interested in because it includes both print and digital are: reading/viewing/ watching, liking, sharing (either digitally or through word of mouth), and commenting (digitally). These relate back t o motivations and interest because they include both private and of understanding of what type of content piques their interest that may lead to derstanding of how they make the decision to engage. Celebrity e ngagement and c ontent . Celebrities use social media to connect with their fans and engage with them (Burns, 2009; Bennett, 2014; Deller, 2011). They create content or are featured in content that can be liked, shared, commented on, and discussed. The content that audiences engage with from Lady Gaga, herself, like most celebrities, include frequent update posts, photographs particularly candid and behind the scenes social media has a more active component that provides a community, where fans not only interact with her but also with each other through commenting on message boards, Facebook, and Twitter to create conversation related to her music, how her music speaks to them, or other issues can support them (Click, Lee, & Holladay, 2013). Like with all social media, users


60 decide how engaged they would like to be. If they visit dai ly but never post, they may be feel as connected. This is where engagement becomes difficult to understand. Computer mediated relationships between audiences and creators have been studied in earlier generations (Clerc, 1996; Gillian, 2011). Previously, engagement was more private and more unidirectional with fans sending fan letters. Fans are now relational partners because of the increase in engagement opportunity and ho w public it can be. Audiences feel like celebrities are talking directly to them, which may increase engagement whether passive or active, because of the nature of social media that has altered engagement (Thomas, 2014). Individuals know that celebrities create content as a channel for engaging with their fans. However, beyond advertising products through social media, the content is also meant to feel authentic. Audiences perceive this content as behind the scenes or a peek into the daily life of the cele brity, which creates a platform for individuals to learn and process this information a key component of SCT. It also may make the content more salient because when individuals are processing the modeled behaviors or beliefs, they know this celebrity is praised by media or their friends for who they are or seem to be beyond their talent. This means that the way the celebrity behaves or the content the celebrity posts reinforces messages that may give the consumer confidence in engaging back and believing this engagement will be positively perceived and may make others think they are part of this world and accepting of the celebrity and their values. The question still remains if that processing includes evaluation of stereotypical


61 feminine messages, and if a product of unconsciously recognizing negative gendered messages. RQ4: What type of content do young women seek when they follow celebrities on social media? This research question is an ex tension of RQ2 and RQ3. Those research questions explore how women define femininity and how they accept or reject media consumption habits may align with their definition and thoughts on femininity. A previous content analysis found celebrity magazines focus on relationships, appearance and social roles like mothering and partnering versus the careers of celebrities (Gorin & Dubied, 2011). Those topics are in line with ste young women define and accept more traditional femininity, they may seek similar less stereotypically. However, there is a c hance that they seek out traditional content stereotypical content or because they are engaging with celebrity news in order to keep up to date with friends. This questio n seeks to explore the type of content participants notice and possibly question. Engagement L evels Methods for engaging with celebrity content have been discussed, but there is still a measurement issue that exists when using quantitative or qualitative methods. Whether consuming or sharing content, there is an investment at the individual level that one chooses to use and can express through engagement. One of the methods for determining engagement levels with media is based on time. The Pew Research


62 Ins titute (2012) reports how much time per day individuals spend watching television and reading news based on age. The amount is rarely contextualized beyond increasing cogni tive investment, which can be drive by motivation such as information driven news grazers versus entertainment driven consumers. Behavior is another way to measure engagement, especially in the social media era. In the social media world, people can look person decides to like a post, they are moving from an observer to a participant (Shao, 2009; Muntinga et al., 2011). Behavior in a print world is getting someone to read or buy the product, which is an investment of ti me and money. Some may see liking still as very passive in comparison to purchasing a magazine to read because buying a magazine is a monetary investment (Shao, 2009; Muntinga et al., 2011). Liking takes little time and no money. Purchasing a product doesn engagement if it will sit on a coffee table and possibly not be glanced at beyond the first day. Liking on social media, on the other hand, could be a result of actually paying attention to the content or a natural response to a post that is created by a celebrity the person admires without much cognitive engagement or evaluation. This is the challenge to engagement. There is no standard. There are different types of engagement that require different resources, but what engagem ent means in terms of cognitive load and representation may vary. A quality less discussed within the framework of engagement is cognitive load what makes them decide to engage. That is where this study and qualitative research can invest its time to und erstand the motivation and perception. This can include


63 emotional energy of engaging (Edwards & Rothbard, 2000; Marks, 1977; Merton, 1957; Rothbard, 2001). Cognitive immersion may also be an influence because it can result in a stronger connection or the p erceived mastery of heuristics of interacting with the environment that makes engagement more experiential (McMillan & Hwang, 2002). Cognitive immersion may include perceived interactivity engagement (McMillan & Hwang, 2002). This is a psychological state in which a consumer feels like he or she has had an interaction based on a connection with information or a website. Cognitive capabilities include processes, such as problem solving, reasoning, decision making, and evaluating (Kearsley & Schneiderman, 199 8). Some media experiences are more utilitarian, whereas others are more transporting and escapist for relaxing or connecting with celebrity friends (Mersey, Malthouse, & Calder, 2010). All of these factors make measuring engagement quantitatively difficul t. Engagement has been measured on a continuum from exposure to interactivity, which starts to address behavior, but it takes away from the cognitive experience that is happening within individuals. Previous research suggests reading content is low engage when cognitive relationships are considered, reading may be deeper and the emotional connection or perceived interactivity may make the consumer feel like they experience higher engagement. Understanding engagement means understanding motivation and cognitive connection with the content and not just pushing a reaction button on the screen. RQ5: What types of engagement do young women currently exhibit toward celebrity content?


64 This question is seeking to understand what are the most common forms of engagement and why the participants do or do not engagement with celebrity media either online or in person. This is a possible extension of RQ1 that asks about emerging motivation to consume celebrity news because women may choose to engage with celebrity content by following certain celebrities in order to development social media bec ause others can see that, and they may feel guilt or shame in their interest in celebrities because it is sometimes considered a guilty pleasure or seen as low brow entertainment (Marshall, 2006). Thus, intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation could be at pla y when it comes to engagement choices. Media Literacy that the goal of media literacy analysis, reasoning, communication, and self media literacy by arguing that it structures, psychological effects, social consequences and representational conventions. This study is interested in knowin g if emerging adult women are participating in the critical evaluation of celebrity media content and the potential reasons why they may or may not, based on motivations to consume, celebrity interest and even their understanding and acceptance of stereoty pical femininity. This may help to better understand the influence that celebrities have on emerging adult women, which


65 could negatively affect their societal role as well as personal limitation that place on themselves. This goes beyond textual analysis o f encoding and decoding the information, which has its place (Hall, 1993), but situates media literacy within broader framework of awareness of those messages within institutional (societal), cultural, and individual conditions. Silverblatt (2001) focuses that individuals must activate logic based information processing as a way to understand and, in some cases, counteract media messages that may be harmful. Silverblatt (2001) highlights the need for critical thinking for individuals to develop their own judgment of content. It is critical thinking is essential to producing cognizant consumers. The goal of media literacy is to reduce individuals desire to emulate negative behaviors and to deter the eff ects of media messages (Austin, Chen, & Grube, 2006; Austin, Chen, Pinkleton & Quintero Johnson, 2006). The issue is how they become critical thinkers. Media literacy research is extensive and has focused on interventions related to violence, sexual beha Gebhardt, 1996; Cantor & Wilson, 2003; Livingstone & Helsper, 2006). For example, studies where videos have been shown to women demonstrating how women are sexually objectified in media has be en found to have a significant effect on cognitive, attitudinal, and behavioral responses to ads featuring women after the fact (Reichert et al., 2007). Students who were exposed to media literacy trainings had greater ens sexual activity and in another study made adolescents less suspectable to tobacco advertisements (Pinkleton, Austin, Chen &


66 Cohen, 2012). Those all involved training of media literacy to see a difference, and in the case of Reichert et al study, the in fluence was stronger on the female participants who were negatively affected by sexual objectification rather than the male participants. This study does not use training as the basis of media literacy but rather seeks to understand if individuals on their own, based on personal experiences, their family the messages they see in celebrity media. Not all media literacy studies include this training. Media litera cy has also found that exposure to news stories about counter stereotypic African American media personalities and celebrities can reduce stereotypical perceptions and symbolic racist beliefs of white Americans about African Americans ( Scharrer & Ramasubra manian, 2015). That research has argued to extend the idea that exposure to celebrities from racial/ethnic backgrounds may reduce ethnic prejudice, though that research could suggest this counter stereotypical behavior means celebrities conforming to white standards or that certain behaviors when performed by another race are considered bad. The question becomes if this can be extended to gender presentation and if seeing counter stereotypic presentations of gender leads to greater acceptance of non traditi onal femininity or expands the perception of femininity. The final research question is designed to understand if women notice and critically evaluate the visual or textual messages from celebrity media. This study takes an informal approach to media liter acy because it is not suggesting implementing a personal experiences, interest in celebrity, and motivation to consume to understand


67 her media literacy, and if those ele to engage with content, if she is critical of the messages, and the potential for those messages to impact her. RQ6: Are women critically evaluating celebrity media content in relation to femininity? Th is study is guided by uses and gratifications and social cognitive theory. It seeks to understand why emerging adult women are interested in celebrities and their motivations for consuming. In addition, it takes into consideration the environment in which she was raised and lived for understanding femininity in her own definition. Central to this study is whether she critically evaluates celebrity content, which could be affected by the previously mentioned factors, and thus how salient stereotypically femi nine messages may be.


68 CHAPTER 3 METHOD The purpose of this study is to understand if women critically evaluate the feminine stereotypes that are embedded in celebrity media. This is an exploratory rather than explanatory study, so a qualitative approach was employed through in depth interviews. Participants were asked to discuss their personal and professional goals, how they enjoy spending their time and their media habits to help the researcher she has been expose acknowledge feminine stereotypes she upholds. This information is based on Social and environment may influence how women process and evaluate information found in celebrity media content. In addition, the study seeks to understand interest in and motivation for consuming celebrity media as part of understanding evaluation of information and potential use. An open ended, inductive thematic analysis will be used to identify themes and answer the research questions. Justification for Qualitative Inquiry This study took a qualitative approach and was concerned with the human experience and the social construction of r eality. Unlike quantitative approaches that designed to describe and interpret experiences that are situational or context specific


69 perspective (Taylor & Bogdan, 1998). Qualitative inquiry through in depth interviews allows the experiences of people to be studied and analyzed (McCracken, 1988). These conversations with individuals In the case of this s tudy, it will allow exploration into why women consume celebrity content, how they interpret celebrity content and other media, and their perceptions and application of feminine stereotypes including discovering how they interpret femininity to see how i t may differ from traditional or standard definitions based on social changes that have occurred. Using qualitative inquiry for interviews allows the nature of human d truth as constructed, where individuals make meaning of the world around them based on their experiences (Hill, 1984). A qualitative approach allows for rich data from a smaller number of interviews than a quantitative approach. This is useful when stud ying social phenomena because they are complex and difficult to explain by filling in a box or selecting an option on a scale. Qualitative inquiry showcases the tension between societal and agentic influences and gives more depth to responses. Using interv iews for an interpretivist approach allows the researcher to learn how the individual views and interacts with her environment (Hill, 1984). It also provides more flexibility because it allows for follow up questions and rephrasing of questions if necessar y (Maxwell, 2014; Rabionet, 2011). In depth interviews are optimal for studying feminine stereotypes because gender stereotyping is both explicit and implicit. A participant may not realize her


70 gendered statements because the message has become ingrained and normalized to Meltzoff & Greenwald, 2011). Using a conversational style of interviewing allows for information related to phenomenon to bubble up on its own (Harrell & Bradley, 2009; Steward & Shamdasani, 1990). Interviews will allow participants to describe and give examples of the kind of media they consume and reveal how women identify with and espouse feminine stereotypes (Denzin & Lincoln, 2000). The study is designed, so i f no one mentions feminine stereotypes through natural conversations, there will be a few planned questions to open up the discussion. If that happens, it will be noted in the analysis and discussion. This study used semi structured interviews. The protoc ol style for semi structured interviews included general conversation starters, planned open ended questions, questions that arise during the conversation, and direct probes (Fontana & Frey, 2003). The benefit of a semi structured approach for the long int erview was that it made sure the interviewer covered the same materials for each participant, that the researcher listened to each answer without focusing too much on coming up with another question, and without blocking the opportunity for exploratory and unstructured responses (Brenner, 1985). The planned conversation starters provided get to know you questions personal/professional goals (Widdicombe & Wooffitt, 1995). Questions that emerged, were mostly follow ups for further detail is needed and a couple of added questions that became a part of the protocol (Kvale, 2007).


71 The initial celebrity questions asked about their celebrity media interests, celebrities they follow, and what t produce or about celebrities. The goal of these initial questions was to see what the women brought up, and if they explicitly or implicitly acknowledged feminine stereotypes or did not seem to evaluate t he content beyond liking or enjoying it. Planned and more women related to socia l roles and appearance, and if and how she feels personally influenced (Gugiu & Rodriguez Campos, 2007). The latter question was asked only after discussing celebrities prior to being primed. Avoiding priming and direct questions increases validity because the responses are more likely to be truthful and less likely to be the artifact of a direct question, but the direct questions were used to see if once aware if the woman re evaluated her previous answers or if it did not change her perspective (Silverma n, 1993). Thematic Analysis described as a method for organizing and describing a data set in rich detail and provides a framework for interpreting research topics (Braun & Clarke, 2006; Boyatzis, 1998). The goal is to unearth themes that are important for describing and understanding the phenomenon (Daly, Kellehear & Gliksman, 1997). Thematic anal ysis, unlike content analysis, goes beyond counting phrases and words and allows the researcher to explore explicit and implicit meanings of a data set and develop and apply


72 themes. The process involves the identification of themes by carefully reading and re reading the data (Rice & Ezzy, 1999). The units for analysis are the observed themes in the data from interviews (Boyatzis, 1998). A theme is a phrase or sentence that identifies what the data are about or what they mean in a more subtle and tacit pro cess (Rallis & Rossman, 2003; Saldana, 2014). In terms of size, themes are large units that are derived from patterns and are sought to explain aspects of human behavior or thought (Leininger, 1985). Themes capture important elements of the data in relatio n to the research questions being asked and represent a patterned response or meaning (Braun & Clarke, 2006). They are not always the most prevalent themes, but the most relevant to the research questions (Clarke & Kitzinger, 2004). In relation to intervie ws, thematic analysis involves the search for and identification of common threads that are present throughout single interviews or across a set of interviews (Morse & Field, 1995). Thematic analysis can take an inductive or deductive approach, but the more common approach is inductive where there are no pre determined themes (Boyatzis, 1998). While the themes were not predetermined, the study was informed by the previous literature r elated to gender, femininity and the two theories that were used to develop the research questions. The research and the development of the questions influenced and informed how the data were analyzed. Thus, the themes were related to upbringing, femininit y, motivation, celebrity interest, and engagement. Boyatzis (1998) recommends five elements for a good thematic code: a label (name); a definition of what the theme concerns, including characteristics; a description of how to know when the theme occurs; a description of any qualifications or exclusions to the identification of


73 the theme; and examples, both positive and negative, to eliminate possible confusion when looking for the theme. After themes are determined they will be identified and defined using Epistemology guides what a researcher can say about the data and informs how the data are theorized. From an epistemological perspective, qualitative thematic analysis is compatible with essentialist or constructivist paradig ms within post positivism (Braun & Clarke, 2006). An essentialist approach focuses on motivations, experience, and meaning in a more straightforward manner. It suggests a more unidirectional relationship of understanding how people exist in the world inste ad of an interaction (Potter & Wetherell, 1987; Widdicombe & Wooffitt, 1995). While motivation and experience are of interest, this research takes a constructivist approach. Constructivists ased on social production and reproduction. It seeks to move beyond the individual psychology and theorize the structural conditions, based on overarching social norms that drive ent experiences but are in similar life stages and share gender. However, they all are products of social demands based on predefined ideals of womanhood and femininity. The goal is to acknowledge the ways in which individuals make meaning and use that to understand the broader social context that influences their decisions or behavior. Procedure An Institutional Review Board approval was obtained in March 2020. The researcher recruited students through course instructors and sororities at a regional univer sity in the South. Interviews were conducted online via a video chat application, where the participants and researcher could see one another. Each interview lasted


74 between 40 minutes and one hour and 15 minutes with an average time of 56 minutes. A tota l of 18 women participated. One major consideration was the racial make up of participants. Feminine stereotypes differ between white women and women of color, though stereotypical feminine ideals are associated with white women (Baker Sperry & Grauerholz , 2003). In order for the results not to be an artifact of the method, the researcher will be cognizant of needing to select women of color in addition to white women. There is more acceptance for women of color to have larger or curvier body shapes, so th ey may talk about feminine appearance differently (Duke, 2000; Duke, 2002; Schooler & Ward, 2004). Celebrities of color, like Beyoncé, are associated with white ideals, despite being African American (Hobson, 2016; Durham, 2012). The researcher recruited s pecifically from African American sororities, but only two participated. Before participating, the women received a link via email to the informed consent to read and sign. The participant could not move forward until the informed consent was signed. In a ddition, at the beginning of each interview, the researcher confirmed information the participant received in the informed consent by asking the individual to confirm that she understood that the interview would be recorded and that her name would not be a ssociated with the data. The recorded interview began with the interviewer asking the opening question, ended question to get the participant comfortable talking but also for the interviewer to gain some knowledge about the other me about you questions have been used as an invitation for the participants to describe themselves, including their interests


75 (Widdicombe & Wooffitt, 1995). This question was changed from the in itial protocol that being quarantined in their homes. The interviewer followed the interview protocol (in Appendix A), which included questions about media habits, socia l media use, celebrity interest and femininity. At the end of each interview, the participants were directly asked to define femininity and to respond to a question that suggests celebrity messages ey should hold and discuss. At the end of the interview, the participant was thanked for her time, the recorder was turned off, and she was be asked to respond to an email with six demographics questions. Of the 18 participants, 16 returned those for the most part, the questions were addressed during the interview. Participants were provided with anonymity to the extent possible through removing identifying information and providing pseudonyms for each participant that are used in the transcriptions and in the final paper. Following the interview, the researcher assigned the data a code. This code was the four or any contact information . Sample Size Sample sizes among qualitative studies vary widely from 3 participants to between 50 and 60 participants (Wimmer & Dominick, 2014). The study interviewed 18 participants and met saturation. Data Analysis The interview data were transcribe d using an online company that uses human transcribers as opposed to machine transcriptions. The goal of this study was not to


76 develop theory but to understand and explore a phenomenon and use information gleaned through the themes to organize the data and answer the research questions (Downe Wamboldt, 1992). The researcher coded for the themes, which are presented in the results section. One of the challenges of this study is working with a concept like femininity that has many definitions. Despite it multiple definitions, it is difficult to define conceptually and difficult because it is a concept that is evolving. The goal was to ask que stions where the participant may implicitly discuss femininity and stereotypes that she upholds, about femininity and celebrity media. The study was designed to unearth underlying beliefs about feminine stereotypes that emerging adult women may or may not be aware of accepting and their application of media literacy from her environment rather than a stimulus to explore whether she critically evaluates celebrity content. The thematic analysis uses latent and explicit content to categorize the data. The latent explores the feminine stereotypes that are between the lines of what the young woman says. It involves more interpretation that theorizes the importance of patterns o r explanations that presents its meaning and significance. It can also draw connections between semantic information or existing literature (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Latent themes take a constructivist position because they deal with understanding how indivi duals construct meaning. Of course, data are not coded in isolation from the researcher who brings experience and bias. After sections were grouped into themes. The themes were named and the brief descriptions were added. A block and file approach was use d to put the data into a


77 chart (Grbich, 2007). This avoids decontextualizing the content and provides an organized approach for analyzing for explicit and implicit meanings within each theme. The chart provides examples for the type of content that belongs to each theme. The evidence from the themes and examples are used to answer the research questions. During this stage, the core categories are systematically connected to one another to study associations (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). The association looked at will help answer the research questions. After the analysis was complete, the researcher conducted member checking. This is where individuals who were interviewed or those who meet the qualifications of the sample but were not initially interviewed disc ussed the findings with the researcher to see if they agreed with the way the information was presented and the interpretation. The goal was to help decrease researcher bias (Mason, 2002). Member checking is a method for validating, verifying or assessing the trustworthiness of the qualitative results (Doyle, 2007).


78 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS This study used in depth interviews to explore why emerging adult women followed celebrities including what motivated them and whether the women were critical of the cele brity content they read, watched or looked at online related to femininity. While the researcher found evidence that the participants critically evaluated positive con tent with stereotypical feminine norms. One of the critical elements of understanding this study is exploring how participants defined celebrity, so the results presents some of the primary concepts from their definitions. After that, the findings will be presented by stating the research question and the themes that emerged from the data. Narrative excerpts are used to demonstrate the themes that relate to the research questions. Understanding the Sample The following description of the sample is provided as a general overview, so the reader can get to know the participants and their background . Understanding the s is a part of the theoretical underpinning of this study. That is because s ocial cognitive theory inism posits that individuals are influenced by their behavior. This section provides insight beyond age, race, and major. The interviews started by helping the researcher learn about the indi lives the structure of their family, what they enjoy doing in their free time with friends, or their religion. While not a truly holistic view, it gave the researcher a general picture


79 of each participant and the interview sample. These women were all from Southern states Alabama, Georgia and Florida, which tend to be more politically conservative. Fourteen of the participants were from two parent families, three were from single parent homes, and one from a family where one parent had passed away. Of the three single year of high school, so she was raised mostly in a two p arent home. Two of the participants explicitly stated their religion during the interviews and four others referenced Christian/religious beliefs during the interviews. The majority of the women discussed that their parents held gender specific roles in th e homes when it came to responsibility to do the chores in the home, and two others noted that their dads did the cooking but other chores were split more traditionally. All of the participants discussed that their professional goals included being financially independent. This interest in financial independence may be a result of the university serving middle to lower income students. Several participants are focused on o btaining professional and graduate degrees, including in law and behavioral therapy. Other s see themselves in management or other leadership positions within the next ten years. Several of these women boasted about paying for school themselves or paying fo r their own cars. It is not surprising that these women are career seeking because all the participants are in college or recent graduates, but their motivation to be financially independent and career driven dispels the once common notion particularly i n the South that women go to college to meet husbands. An interesting facet of discussing their careers was that several participants wanted to go into teaching, which is a popular


80 field for women and upholds the feminine stereotype of women as caregiver s, but decided against it. They had been dissuaded either from vicariously experiencing teaching as a career through their own moms or even their moms recommending another field. Their reasons either from watching or being told to avoid the career path included the lack of financial gain and respect in the field. The two participants who were getting teaching degrees did not had parents in the field but were encouraged by their parents. When it came to their personal lives, 17 of the 18 expressed an int erest in getting married and having kids. However, most of them said they are not in a rush and saw it as a long term goal. Three women mentioned watching their parents struggle financially because of having children while in college or shortly after. Some participants were thinking about their future as mothers when it came to picking majors. Five participants said they had selected careers based on the ability to raise children or plan on stepping back from work when they have children. While the majority of the women were from what many would consider more traditional backgrounds with men being the primary earner in the family and the women seeking careers while planning t o have families. It is important to note that all but two participants in two parent households also had dual income households with both parents working at least part time. The background questions gave the researcher and this study a bit of grounding whe n it comes to some potential influences from family and lifestyle that may impact how they perceive celebrity content and the concept of femininity.


81 Defining Celebrities This study focuses on celebrity media and whether emerging adult women are critical o f the possible messages embedded in celebrity content related to stereotypical feminine appearance, behavior and social roles. Celebrities are central to this study; however, what makes someone a celebrity was not predefined for participants. Instead, th e researcher asked participants about celebrities and allowed the participants to discuss celebrities based on who they thought were celebrities before asking them for their definition. Asking for a definition was not initially a part of the interview prot ocol because, as previous research has suggested, there are many ways celebrity can be defined, and the industries and platforms through which individuals become celebrities are constantly evolving (Driessens, 2013). However, several comments from the firs t three participants lead to adding that question to see how these women defined it. When the researcher initially asked Beth about the celebrities she typically I don't know if you could call them celebrities, but I do follow a lot of This sentiment about who qualified as celebrities was echoed by Eleanor, who couched her discussion about celebrities she follows on Instagram by saying, oys. status more for those whose popularity emerged on social media and digital platforms like YouTube rather than more traditional entertainment celebrities from movies and music. Holly commented that s he celebrities like Jeffree Star [he is a make


82 Participants, who followed a military wife, a family with children with Autism, and make up artists, all noted that their celebrities may not be considered celebrities by others. Participant Georgia said she follows mostly country singers. Interestingly, she celebrities, but then talked about country singers she followed. This presented a disconnect between what she said and does. This could, of course, be rel ated to social desirability and not wanting to seem too interested in celebrities rather than questioning their celebrity status. However, Georgia was the only participant to question the celebrity status of traditional entertainers. While the researcher is known for his well definitive definition (Boorstin, 1961, p. 57). The researcher asked participants for their definition of celebrit y starting with the fourth interview, which resulted in 15 varying celebrity they predominantly follow. Table 4 1 . Celebrity Definitions by Participants Participant Definition of Celebrity Predominant types of celebrity she follows Faith I think for me usually the celebrity term is more reserved for an actor or a musician or somebody on like a very big scale, but I don't know, like a local celebrity. There are like artists I know that get a ton of followings. Dancers or even just personalities. YouTube has a lot of people that really don't do much at all. You know, saying that they'll just Vlog what they do or whatever and they're a celebrity because there's a sizable following. Musicians; artists


83 Table 4 1. Continued Participant Definition of Celebrity Predominant types of celebrity she follows Natalie I guess just someone who has earned the respect of millions of people in the world that have put them up on that pedestal. I don't know. Actors, actresses, pop singers, influencers Rissa I think a celebrity is someone who is very well known whether it's from an acting career or from being a politician or just being somebody who has made a name for themselves, it doesn't have to be any specific profession, but someone who is very well known and someone that people keep up with and has that platform to reach a great number of people. Athletes (Gymnasts specifically); actors (couples like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds) Laura So, I think a celebrity is somebody that gains media attention to a high level. Because I don't feel there's any success qualifications in being a celebrity, because a lot of them aren't successful for anything other than being popular. So, I think defining... I would define celebrity in just the terms of media attentio n that they draw. Athletes, sports broadcasters, reality stars (The Bachelor specifically), actresses Jennifer I would see someone as a celebrity that ... I mean, your typical version of a celebrity would be someone who is ... I don't even know, because you could say someone that everybody knows their name. Well, I mean, this is really weird, but Kay Ivey (Governor of Alabama) . Everybody knows her name. Does that mean she's a celebrity? Female singers, actresses The five definitions in Figure 4 1 demonstrate some underlying themes that were present across the 15 definitions: perceived audience size, well known ba sed on their field, media presence, name recognizability, and simple I know responses. These themes, with the exception of those uncertain of criteria to be a celebrity, have shown up over the years in celebrity definitions. Marketing has what is kno wn as the Q score that helps companies determine name and face recognizability of celebrities who the brand may want to use (Miciak & Shanklin, 1994). Others have studied celebrity based on accumulated media presence as a way to redefine celebrity and crea te a comprehensive conceptualization because it combines visibility, audience, and various


84 tion as some even used the term well known. So, without formal definitions, the participants discussed celebrities based on their conceptualization while still questioning whether who they considered to be celebrities would also be considered celebrities by others, particularly those outside of thei r age range and specific interests. For the most part entertainment celebrities, such as singers and actors and actresses were unanimously identified and discussed as examples when defining celebrities. However, the women who follow athletes did not mentio n athletes specifically when defining celebrity, which was interesting because there are very well known and visible athletes. Changing Landscape of Media on Celebrities The media landscape has become fragmented and the emergence of different types of cel ebrities based on fields and platforms has resulted in more people being through which celebrities emerge impacts their responses to the study because some celebrities present less social and economic barriers to emulate and identify with than others. Thus, their definitions and how they discuss celebrities suggests that celebrities exist at different levels with entertainment celebrities as the most recognizable but pos sibly less influential than other lower tiered celebrities that they identified and included in their definitions. Since their definitions of celebrity were wide ranging and most followed both traditional entertainment celebrities (musicians, actors and ac tresses) and social media influencers (make up artists and lifestyles Vloggers), the type of content they consumed


85 varied. They described content from day to day posts of people more like them as well as wealthy celebrities and product endorsements to behi nd the scenes of awards shows, fashions and tutorials. The most common platform for this content was Instagram. Participants commented that they used Facebook more for family and friends than celebrities. Snapchat, YouTube and TikTok were also commonly men tioned. Only a few participants used Twitter to keep up with celebrities and even fewer watched interviews online or on TV with celebrities or sought out print publications like People magazine. So, much of the content these women were consuming was create d by the celebrity. Research Questions & Themes In order to understand motivation, the researcher posed questions related to what the participant liked about celebrities, what types of content they enjoy, what motivates them to seek out information about c elebrities, and follow up questions based on responses to those questions. Motivation was described in previous literature as intrinsic and extrinsic. That was the perspective this study was also using to understand the why behind following celebrities. R esearch Question 1 Motivation RQ1 asked what motivated women to consume celebrity content. The reality was there were elements of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation was the primary motivation when it came to deciding to follow celebrities, but the information the women gleaned was used in their lives for social cohesion an extrinsic motivation. While participants might watch a show with friends and families as part of a social motivation to lead them to seek individual celebrities out and continue to check in on them. Two exceptions were


86 women who followed some big name celebrities because everyone else was following them and some who were still following celebrities from when they were young, though they said they are no longer interested in that celebrity. The themes that emerged related to motivation were: Information Seeking, Relationship Building with Celebrities, Social Cohesion, and Attraction. Intrinsic i nformation s eek ing . One of the primary intrinsic motivations for consuming celebrity news was information seeking, Participants wanted to know more about the celebrity but necessarily get to know the celebrity. This did not necessarily result in them following a celebrit daily life. This motivation was expressed as a way to answer a question that may arise while watching a movie or show or when a friend mentions the celebrity in a discussion and there is a question. B to know how old a character is, or if they're married, or where they live, from maybe Katrina echoed this, celebrity doctor, when she wondered how much he was worth. Even those who really like a particula r celebrity expressed this information seeking motivation. Mia loved Hugh Jackman as Wolverine and because of that she Ellen just to learn more about him because I was


87 having a parasocial relationship where she regularly checks in on this celebrity, but like the others, it was just to answer a question she has about a celebrity she also likes. Holly was the only participant who discussed information seeking in relation to discussions with others. She mentioned an instance a couple of days before the interview where she was watching High School Musical with her family. confused about why they looked so old in those movies. And I was like, Her motivation in this case was to settle a discussion and in some cases in the past, an argumen t. She says she also commonly looks up to see how tall celebrities are, especially in comparison to an actor she thought was tall or short previously. For the most part, information seeking was not used by participants for celebrities who they are interest ed in having a more personal relationship with and was mostly fact gathering. Information seeking had another form that should be noted. Though the most common was to find out a fact or answer a question, it was also used to find influencers who were disc ussing products the participant may be interested. Beth explained: a make up vlogger on YouTube) main channel is a makeup channel, if I'm ever like, I want to try a new foundation or something, like I can go to her channel and watch her recommendations, because she's one of those, like she will tell you straight up if she hates it or not. Like she does not beat around the bush. She'll do wear tests on the makeup, and then come back 12 hours later and show us what it is looking like at th In this case, which was mentioned by several participants, they were looking for product details in order to decide what to buy or how to use a product or wardrobe item


88 they already had. The motivation was directly related to personal application and, once again, to answer a question. This time it was in the form of a need. In addition, a few participants were seeking information more related to musicians. Faith hea rd a song by Billie Eilish. She really liked the song, so she wanted to know who the artist was. She has had similar experiences after seeing an actor or want to k now more about them. More about their creative process or their background considers herself an artist, so she likes to learn more about celebrity musicians experienc es and processes. Mia, on the other hand, does not consider herself a musician and likes to find out more about the lyrics to some of her favorite songs and how they may relate to the artist. ad singer of Evanescence ... I do know she had a younger sister that had died. Yeah, so I think that's kind of what ... So that got me thinking, well maybe that's why her songs just have a sad feeling to them some of the time, and what she draws inspiratio n on and how she used to date, I believe, the lead singer of another band, and how that did not end very well, and how that This is the kind of information Mia says she looks up or even follows celebrity on social media to learn . She likes seeing how life events inspire their music. Mia was the only person who followed the celebrity personally and was interested in specific information about them. Relationship building . This theme is related to parasocial relationships because i t is about feeling connected to the celebrities who create the content or are featured in


89 it based on repeated exposure and learning more. It could be seen as an extension of relatable content, but it is more about the relationship with the celebrity. This relationship is built on a personal or intrinsic interest in celebrities. Cara said she likes commented that celebrities are often put on pedestals and their social media make them seem human. Danielle echoed Cara when she discussed how with following reasons Danielle follows Ariana is because she feels like she can connect with Ariana an d that Ariana brings followers into her life and interacts with them. When reviewing narratives related to motivations for following celebrity content, most participants discussed celebrities individually. It was evident from how participants discussed so me celebrity content that they had established or were developing a parasocial relationship with their celebrities. The women mentioned checking in on their favorite celebrities online and looking up information about them their families and careers. The participants were explicit in stating that they follow celebrities for particular reasons, such as wanting a family life like theirs, sharing an interest in a social cause, or just wanting to know more about them as a person. Faith said was interested in learning want to see that element of their personality in the special things they do if that makes sense. That's what's interesting, is if the y can maintain that level of, "This is who I am, my identity," throughout, not just spending the afternoon with friends, but if that can transfer all the way up to their interviews on a press tour or the way they interact at a red carpet type event or some thing like that. Just like being true to themselves, despite the celebrity, I think that's what I'm interested in. That's what I can get


90 Katrina was also interested in a relationship with her favorite artist Kevin Gates after listening to his mus to day life was common among st other participants. They enjoyed personal connection from getting that inside look. Isabelle said one of the things she likes about following actress life. Isabelle ex plained that Woodley is often without make up in her social media images and shares her personal beliefs in her posts. Natalie described seeing family life, and just looking at them. A commonality that emerged between narratives within this theme was how despite not having their own families. They described it as a way of learning more about the celebrities and developing relationships because they are very personal. Sidney discussed the singer Fergie and how she feels connected to seeing images of Fergie with her child. Rissa is a fan of actor Ian Somerhalder and respects his work, but she also i s a fan of him as a person. She has built a parasocial relationship with him through watching his shows, assessment is based on seeing his philanthropy work, his sweet family as she describes it, and the relationships he builds with co workers and fellow actors on his social media and interviews. She says she keeps up with a few other celebrities like Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, but


91 she talks about Ian Somerhalder in a more detailed and nuanced way like she learned about him from conversations and not mediated content. Rissa was not the only participant to talk about certain celebrities as though they l earned the information directly from the actor or actress, which showcases deeper knowledge and more care in learning about celebrities beyond just their big headlines. All of these participants shared passionately about their celebrities, and Rissa admitt ed that she gets emotionally invested in their lives. Celebrity n ews for s ocial c ohesion . This was a theme from previous research related to motivation that was evident in this study (Turner et al, 2000). It is also related to an engagement theme that eme rged. That theme will be discussed later in the results. Celebrity content for social cohesion emerges in two ways. The first is how Beth discusses it, where the participants talk about how they consume the content with friends. Beth says she watchers a lo t of the same YouTube celebrities as her friends and they will watch video together when they are hanging out. She also says that she has watched some popular YouTubers that she is less interested in because her friends watch them. The other is where the c ontent is consumed more independently, but it is used to spur or maintain friendships. Cara says she tends to be closer with people who share her musical taste because it gives them something to talk about and to do. Pilots. When their most recent album came out my fresh man year, or maybe my sophomore year, it dropped at midnight. We stayed up and had a listening party for it. Doing stuff like that, like going to concerts for the bands we like and talking about the new music and discussing what it means, I feel like, give s a deeper connection. Because, like I said, I think a lot of it has to do with personalities and a lot of the things you've dealt with


92 in life. Those types of things really connect people, and so I find myself The use of cel ebrity content to form a bond was particularly true of reality celebrities. Holly, Natalie, Laura, Katrina, Jennifer and Eleanor all mentioned that they started watching reality shows and following different participants from different seasons because thei r friends were talking about it. Holly said she had never watched The Bachelor before coming to college, but her freshman year when she was trying to make friends, one woman invited a few others over to watch, and it was the start of their friend group. Not only do they watch the show, but Holly and her friends follow the different leads and their favorites online and discuss them when they appear in media. Holly says she has to really like the reality celebrity, like Hannah Brown who has recently been in the media, to follow them but enjoys keeping up. Laura describes keeping up wit h The Bachelor and its popular castmates as topic y. you'll jump in and it's like, "Did you see that?" So that's something we use Laura says most of the celebrities she follows are from the Bachelor or sports world, which she was surprised about during the interview when she realized those were the main groups as she went through her Instagram. She says she enjoys following them because it gives her something to talk abou t with others. Faith uses celebrity news to help her connect with the students at the school where she is a student teacher. She said knowing about celebrities and name dropping or referring to something they did recently helps her stay relevant and makes her more relatable to the students. It is something she does consciously knowing cultural references provide common threads between groups and social currency.


93 The participants all expressed moderate or higher interest in celebrities as part of the study celebrities. In addition to being personally interested in celebrities, which most of them were for specific celebrities or even groups of celebrities, they also understood the social cu rrency that knowing about celebrities afforded them when it came to connecting with others. A few like Isabelle and Georgia discussed following more popular celebrities because other people they knew did and because those celebrities are talked about in po pular culture. Social cohesion was a reason participants followed some celebrities and was used a conversation fodder. Attraction . The most stereotypical reason participants were motivated to follow celebrities was expected because they thought the celeb rity was attractive. This was particularly true for why the female participants in this study followed male celebrities. Here are a few of their comments: Georgia. Sometimes if it's an actor or actress I've never seen before, but I think they did a really good job or I'm not ashamed to admit it, if I think the male actor is very attractive, then I go and look him up after Rissa need to follow him." Or if he's funny and I'm like, "Oh, I want to see more movies about him." I'll follow him or see what his family life is like or see what his Natalie Katrina While the women mostly discussed the attractiveness of male celebrities, they also mentioned following female celebrities to see what they wore, from outfit of the day type of content to their elaborate costumes for the Met Gala. Georgia mentioned that


94 she likes Kelsea Ballerini and that she thinks Kelsea is pretty. Faith mentioned that she is into awards show fashion and likes to see what celebrities wear when they get dressed for the red carpet. However, the idea that female celebrities were attractive seemed to be more of a understood eleme nt of celebrity, not necessarily a motivation because most celebrities are pretty. Research Question 2 Defining Femininity RQ2 asked how young women define femininity in relation to traditional stereotypes. Participants struggled when it came to discuss ing femininity. They acknowledged some prior to being directly asked, some through their discussions of traditional aspects of femi ninity as well as their opinions on traditional femininity and the changes they have seen societally. This could have been broken up into two competing themes that presented two sides of the femininity coin between traditional and non traditional femininit discussions connected the two sides in a way that shows change, particularly the way they see more negative traits related to femininity being redefined as positives. This resulted in the singular theme evolving femininity becau se only three of the 18 participants limited themselves to just defining traditional femininity. Evolving femininity . When discussing or defining femininity, all participants discussed traditional characteristics, traits, or stereotypes related to feminin ity. Some of them discussed it in reference to themselves. They talked about how they uphold feminine stereotypes such as wearing their hair long noting that they like it that way but also that it may be a result of social grooming or expectations. Two m entioned


95 way of upholding traditional feminine stereotypes. Others highlighted ways they reject those norms, related to their choice of dress, their career goals. For example, Laura expressed her desire to be a sports information director when sports broadcast is more popular for women. Rissa articulated this evolving femininity in relation to changes in how women are delicate for females, but females women versus the reality of women. She referenced how women are standing up for themselves and having interests and hobbies (even media habits) that were once considered more male dominant or masculine. Holly, a self described girly girl, echoed Rissa by describing femininity as empowerment but also sof t. She specifically cited her role as executive vice president of the Student Government Association at her university and mentioned the growing number of women in powerful roles. Her discussion of femininity was focused on how feminine qualities should be perceived as good rather than negative qualities. One of the qualities she mentioned was grace, which is a term associated more with women: with having like a soft demeanor with fe mininity. Because you can have this like harsh, we're going to do this and this is how we're going to do it, but there's also a time you need to step back and think, well, how is this affecting everyone else and how can I adjust to that to make sure everyo ne's feeling OK. So, I think, being empowered, but also leading with This discussion showcases underlying qualities associated with women. The obvious ones are the use of the word soft in relation to demeanor. Communal thinking, for example, is evident when she mentions how this may affect others. Caregiving in a


96 less traditional sense of the definition but applicable as she considers how she can adjust her behaviors and decisions to make others feel ok. Isabelle also u sed the term soft. She said, a lot of people advocate for strong women, but I feel like there's also a place for the softer spoken women who aren't like I want there t o be that balance and you can be strong, but you can also be femininity as it evolves. Personality was also mentioned in relation to evolving femininity. Participants discussed a sense of being oneself and, to a certain extent, praising women for being ve in big part of femininity is just like embracing who you are as a person and really le tting your personality shine through, and that's not something I see a lot of men do. And when you see a guy that is described as effeminate or has more feminine traits, one of the biggest things about it, it isn't physical, it's the way they express their Mia, who mentioned during the interview that she is Baptist, was raised in a traditional, conservative home, and tends to gravitate toward more traditional femininity, also agreed with how femininity has evolved. She says that she sees femin inity as being also taking care of yourself, whether you are a single woman or a mot her. Mia, like many of the women, acknowledges the traditional gender roles that her parents held in


97 their homes growing up but also felt staying true to herself meant balancing social expectations with her own ambitions, including seeking to be financiall y independent and pursue a career. Evolving femininity is defined by featuring traditional feminine stereotypes combined with socially acceptable more progressive feminine traits. This still places pressure on women to uphold socially accepted aspects of f emininity while also can have it expectations to meet while balancing all of the previous requirements. However, t he benefit of this theme appears to be redefining once considered negative female traits and stereotypes as beneficial to women in societal, personal, and professional roles. Research Question 3 Accepting and Rejecting Femininity RQ 3 asked how young women view their personal acceptance or rejection of femininity. The goal of this question was to see how participants identified with feminine stereotypes because it may influence if they are critical of stereotypical femininity when present in celebrity media or if they even notice feminine stereotypes. The answer to this question is an extension of the previous research question and how they define femininity. Their discussions referenced their definition of femininity. An interestin g outcome of this RQ and the overarching idea was that these women identify with traditional feminine stereotypes and their evolving definitions both without reservation. embrac ing a redefined form of femininity though their definitions still present a fairly socially acceptable view by including traditional aspects. The prominent theme that lso


98 rejects others of this Upholding Evolved Femininity. There was a second theme that emerged related to upholding or rejecting femininity that was directly related to appearance through clothing. Upholding Evolved Femininity . When the women discussed acceptance and rejection of femininity, they all focused on different aspects and scenarios. So, the following will go through some of the examples that demonstrate both h ow they discussed acceptance and rejection of traditional femininity as examples of upholding their evolved femininity. Beth discussed how her family has impacted her acceptance of certain roles within the house like cooking and cleaning. She said that sh cook and clean. However, just a few statements later she also said she feels expected washing the dishes. She explained her perspective was likely a r esult of being a part of a Southern family, where the men traditionally grill and the women are inside cooking traditional feminine goals and more modern goals. After gradu ation, she wants to live in a big city and travel until she settles down and has a family. It is evident that she understands and accepts traditional feminine roles. Mia also discussed how she takes care of chores and other homemaker types of activities wh en it comes to ways that she upholds femininity. She prefers to do the dishes and folds the towels. She defined femininity in terms of empowerment and focused on how she upholds her form of femininity by getting an education, paying for


99 her own car, and wo rking hard to get where she is currently. She said part of upholding her version of femininity is staying true to herself and not letting other people completely influence her decisions. She did not really reject femininity because she discussed ways that she has accepted traditional femininity and then she applied a more evolved stance of what is feminine. When Sidney discussed her personality in relation to femininity, she highlighted her role as a caretaker amongst her friends. However, she rejected t he term mother figure. She explained how she wants to make sure her friends are OK, but that they take personal responsibility for their decisions. There was a disconnect in this conversation because she did not want to align herself with the traditional f eminine trait despite describing it and applying the concept to herself. When it comes to applying feminine stereotypes, Amy started by discussing her clothes and being a modest dresser as a way of being feminine. She remembers how her grandmother would make her or her siblings wear a coat or a blanket on their lap if they wore a skirt that was too short to church. The importance of modesty for a woman was taught to her at a young age, and she has carried that with her. Amy also discussed caring what peop le think of her, which has been defined by others as a traditional feminine trait. However, when Amy was discussing femininity and her relationship to the term, she also stuck to her definition of femininity and how she upheld it. This included more of tha t empowerment and equality perspective. She believes in women and men being paid the same if they are doing the same job with the

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100 raised in a traditional home and is influ enced by that and how she sees the roles of men and women. I'm not one of those girls that is like, I have to go home and submit to my husband, and I'm not one of those girls that I'm going to go home and tell my husband what to do or nothing like that. It's kind of just a mutual respect thing for me. You and I are the same, but we're the same in different ways and we have to learn those boundaries and those key points there to learn how we cannot just talk with each other but work alongside each other in Amy is not married, but she is in a serious relationship. She said that her and her boyfriend already face this issue of him not like being told what to do, and her expressing that when she sees something he needs to take care, she tells him. S he wants them to be partners, but also finds that men and women do have different roles. the concept to herself. She gave the example of how she bought an air conditioner las t year when others might want a man to do that. Though there was a male who could was inspired by her mom who raised her to be independent. She did bring up a more traditional, in her opinion, feminine trait: sacrificing. She discussed pregnancy as anything yet, but that is a part of femininity she felt she is likely to uphold to st art a family. Faith was one of the few who viewed herself as rejecting traditional feminine norms instead of accepting her own form of femininity. She focused more on d of that statement is in line with that feminine expectation that she is rejecting and gives a sense of how she recognizes how she differs from those expectations. When she

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101 described herself as a natural born leader and likes being in charge, she also exp ressed is seen as negative, particularly for women in leadership roles. Faith also focused on other traditional traits she rejects like not wearing make up and how she d resses, which she thinks are shallower limitations of femininity. The result of this is that these women seemed to want to accept or are at least complicit in accepting femininity stereotypes. They accepted certain traditional feminine stereotypes without question and also used their own definitions to align themselves with that version of femininity that is more in line with the lives of women today. While their evolving definitions are progress, femininity in any form still seems important to these women . Feminine e ntrenched a ppearance . While the previous theme did mention evolving femininity, there was still signs of stereotypical feminine expectations that the young women identified and, for the most part, upheld. That was related to appearance. This is not surprising based on the visibility and focus of outward appearance for women. However, there were some nuances related to appearance that deviate from previous literature. Also, the participants a p art of appearance literature. Faith when discussing femininity in relation to appearance described it as, went on to say she thinks that a major difference between men a nd women is related to this sense of self and caring about how others perceive you. Faith says that while she dresses more masculine I do put a

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102 lot of thought into what it is that I wear, which I think i s a feminine take on the more masculine style that I have she finds the right outfit for the day. She also recognizes that her appearance makes an impression on others and, in turn, it influences how she feels and acts. So, while Faith does not dress in a stereotypical feminine manner, she feels she upholds feminine stereotypes by caring about her appearance. Odette also combined masculine and feminine styles. She likes to wear pant suits to work because it makes her feel good, but she also discussed how she is treated I've said this since I started wearing pantsuits, if I'm wearing that, most men won't hold the door, and I don't know why they would feel threatened, I don't know another word to use it is, but I guess they don't appreciate it, Power suits are not new for women, but they project a more masculine appearance. Odett e balances that look with heels and make up, which make her feel dresses influences how others treat these women. They both discuss how they make deliberate choices with t heir looks in order to manage how other people perceive them and not simply dress for their own needs. When it comes to appearance, the women all noted that the town where the college is located is very casual. Dress for a typical night in or out with fri ends was what the researcher refers to as the college woman uniform oversized t shirt and Nike shorts. This has become socially acceptable to wear to class and with friends. Some may describe it as feminine because Nike shorts are short and show off wome The women did note that when they were going out with friends to an event like a

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103 birthday party or in mixed company that they would dress in jeans and a nice shirt in the fall and winter and a dress or shorts and a tank top in the spring and summ er. Penelope comments and that is she dresses nicer when she thinks pictures will be taken and shared on social media. The underlying tone was that she felt she needed to wear make up and look a certain way if people other than her closest friends who know her are going to see the images or be at the event. So, while all these women go make up less and wear very casual clothes, they are still wearing a type of uniform that is socially acceptable for their gender and age group. They also take into consideration who is going to see them and how pictures may become public. The interesting part about them worrying about images on social media without make up on was that these s ame women expressed liking when celebrities were make up less in casual social media certain way and have her make up on. Research Question 4 Celebrity Content RQ4 aske d what type of content do young women seek when they follow celebrities on social media. Participants mentioned a variety of types of celebrity content that interests them, from fashion to performance shots some even mentioned promotions the celebrities do for brands. There was an underlying similarity between the different types of content that emerged. Participants enjoyed content that they can relate too. The theme was defined as Relatable Content. This could be considered a motivation as well, though it was not something that was a part of previous intrinsic research. While there is some aspect of aspiration, for the most part the interest in this content was something relatable now or something they hope to relate to in the future.

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104 Relatable c ontent . Participants focused on content that, while from the outside may seem distant, they could relate to at some level. For Eleanor, who was raised Baptist and in what she described as a traditional family structure including household roles for parents, she said, I'm really into Muscadine Bloodline, this country band I was telling you about, and I think it's because they have a lot of the same beliefs that I do. And one of them talks really heavy on mental health and going to therapy and really educating pe ople and being like, "It's okay." And I think that's something now that a lot of people still think negative towards it of mental health, and really believing that people do have these problems they struggle with. I personally don't really have a lot of me ntal health problems that I go to therapy for anything that. I just think it's really important, it's kind of the same thing about advocating for people with disabilities. I think Eleanor sees the way the members of Muscadine Bloodline use their platform to advocate for mental health awareness is the way she would like to use her social media platform for raising awareness about disabilities. In addition, she has found common ground with them because o f their beliefs. She gravitates toward celebrities who are more transparent and open in their content, so she is able to know about them and how they align with her beliefs or her interests. Mia also echoed the feeling of relatedness when it comes to cele brities she Evanescence, song Lithium. mother is actually bipolar, and she takes lithium, and I heard that song and In addition to Mia follows celebrities Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Their family we were similar in a way, and I just wanted to see how other people took on that r ole

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105 and see if it was similar to mine, because it's easier to find it from a celebrity than your connect with based on a similar experience. Odette follows celebrities, particu larly Youtubers and Influencers, because of similarities she can relate to. YouTuber Tati and Odette, for example, share a love for make up. They can come together and learn from each other. However, Odette points out that Tati also talks about mental heal th while she is doing make up. She said sometimes Tati will talk about if she felt depressed that day and how sitting down and doing make up would help get her out of that mood, and Odette said she could relate to that feeling. Odette also follows more tra ditional celebrities who she can find common ground with as well. While the Kardashians to many seem very over the top, Odette says she follows Khloe because she feels like she can relate to Khloe who has been in bad relationships. Odette also likes to see ing how Khloe has bounced back through her photos and stories Odette finds that part motivational. While each of these young women mentioned that there are differences in the lives that the y lead and those of their favorite celebrities, they were all quick to discuss how celebrities have opened up through social media and interviews in ways that have allowed them to connect. That they follow these women because they discuss topics and experi ences they have or are currently going through. This relatedness brings these followers back to their accounts and seeking more information about them. This is likely related to the relationships these women seek from celebrities. Being relatable is also c onnected to the growing interest in social media, in particular, being more authentic.

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106 Celebrities post images of them in ball gowns one day and then shun some social norms by posting images of them not wearing make up and dressed in pajamas or sweatpants. This demonstrates balancing feminine stereotypes to some extent, which Research Question 5 Celebrity Engagement RQ5 asked what types of engagement young women currently exhibit toward celebrity c ontent. One of the primary ways that participants in this study followed celebrity news was through social media. The most popular channels for accessing information about celebrities was by following individual celebrities on Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok , and Twitter versus more general celebrity accounts on those platforms or websites. Social media and the Web 2.0 era are noted for their interactivity and others for exa mple, celebrities and fellow fans. Despite the ability to engage, women in this study expressed limited interest in engaging with content online. They did reference how they use content as a way to share information with friends, which relates back to moti ves something that the engagement literature had predicted (Gillian, 2011; Hutton & Fosdick, 2011). The most common form of engagement was liking, so the engagement theme narrowed to limited liking and online to offline sharing. Limited l iking . post when she a personal thing. I don't usually engage with the comments or reach out in other w ays like

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107 decisions based on the salience of the content, which shows that the participants are processing the content to some extent. Holly mentioned a recent picture Nick Jonas posted of himself and Priyanka on their anniversary and that she liked it. She decided dia king is the most common Commenting is much more limited even though social media were designed for interaction through comments . Odette, who mostly follows influencers on Instagr am and YouTube, comments on celebrity posts. When Imogen Nation was having issues with others posting unkind messages and Jaclyn Hill was going through a time when her messages seemed depressive to Odette, Odette commented to show her support to the social I would comment back to her [Imogen Nation] and be like, "Honey, you're okay. You are loved, and we're going to pray for you and it's all going to directly to the celebrity like a friend. have the numbers of followers more traditional celebrities have. Influencer celebrities depend on that interpersonal connection affor ded by the platform where they found popularity. One of the reasons other participants mentioned not engaging with content beyond likes was the belief that the celebrity would not see the comment or would not care since the celebrity knows nothing about th em. Natalie says her friends sometimes

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108 research has been built on the idea of this one way relationship that makes regular people feel like they know celebrities they watch on TV or follow online, and interactivity seems like it would strengthen that relationship (Horton & Wohl, 1956) . However, the women in this study presented a different perspective. While they like seeing the every day content of actors and actresses as a way of knowing more about them and their lives, the participants are aware tha t the celebrity knows nothing about them. Despite the ability to engage a bit more, they choose not to engage or limit their interaction based on perceived (non) response. An interesting take on engagement decisions that could be linked to the theme of li I'll double tap on Instagram or I'll favorite it. I know people who will comment and DM ion not to comment was based on anxiety of other people seeing or knowing she commented, especially the celebrity. Cara noted that she admires some of the celebrities she follows icipants, she enjoys reading and looking at the content herself and commonly shares content via direct message or in conversation with her sister and other friends. On the other hand, ented on Instagram will say liked by so and so, like somebody you're a mutual friend with or

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109 something like that and however many others, so I think it's interesting to see like, "Oh, relevant, so if I like seeing what they post just adding a li ke to it means they're going to Limited liking provides a form of interaction between the consumer and their celebrities of choice. The surprising element of this theme is that liking versus commenting is something the participants make conscious decisions about versus simply doing the action. Online to offline d iscussion. Engagement while limited online seems to have stronger levels offline. Thus, the second engagement theme is online to offline discu ssion, which provides a form of motivation to consume celebrity content for social media, she still engages with the information by discussing celebrity content she sees online with friends offline. She brought up the example of Hannah Brown from The Bachelorette mouthing a bad word on TikTok, and that her friends discussed it because it was a hot topic and something everyone in her age range is discussing. She said if it they would discuss even if it was a celebrity. So, her focus on celebrity content was age specific. She was the only one who noted that she follows younger celebrities s pecifically, which could also be related to having relatable content. She says, usually lso brought up

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110 common with celebrities her and her friends are into, such as her roommate and Post Laura who also describes herself as an infrequent commenter said that she will send posts she likes of celebrities through direct messages on social media. For watch the Bachelor together, and so we both tend to either in agree(ment) with us or in total disagree(ment), we send it to each other to be like, oh would you look at this both online and offline. specific and got information from a variety of sources when using celebrities as a conversation starter. Eleanor explained: n reality seems to be that some participants are unsure where they get celebrity information, which may be a product of its pervasiveness and why this study was not platform specific.

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111 Beth and her friends sometimes watch the celebrity content together and d iscuss what they just watched and other times they send them to each other through text messages and often refer back to them. One of the common elements of this theme is tim es, but she suspects that it comes from online sources. This would make sense in more traditional settings like in People magazine or watching TMZ types of shows on tel evision. In relation to uses and gratification and motivation, celebrity content gives these young women something to share with their friends and individuals they interact with. The engagement is primarily in the offline format though the information sta rts online. Online engagement was expressed as more of a personal experience of enjoying the content because it was inspiring or attractive and sometimes it was goal driven (to ent was more about connecting with others. The online to offline was where engagement really seemed to be where participants invested their energy. Research Question 6 Critical Evaluation RQ6 asked if women critically evaluate celebrity media content i n relation to femininity and feminine stereotypes. This question was the backbone of this study because understanding whether or not young women critically evaluate the celebrity content that they receive may affect the influence that celebrity media have on them. of the participants, from celebrity interests to understanding femininity before tackling this question. After reviewing the interviews, the answer to this q uestion is that they are

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112 critical in some aspects but not in relation to feminine stereotypes until directly asked. The reality is that the participants notice good and bad elements of celebrity content, which shows that they do think about the content. Ho wever, they tend to focus on the in and overlook stereotypical feminine content, particularly that is presented by celebrities they do have an interest in versus make general states. Prior to being asked about stereotypical feminine messages celebrities send to audiences, the researcher reviewed the narratives from the initial questions to explore if they acknowledged feminine stereotypes when being critical of celebr ity media. There were six themes that emerged across the 18 interviews related to how the participants critical evaluate content. Each one of them had elements of feminine stereotypes in addition to just general criticism, but with the exception of gender differences they notice, there was not a critical awareness of feminine stereotypes. Hypocrisy . Hypocrisy was one of the themes that emerged when it comes to place durin g the early stages of the 2020 COVID 19 pandemic. The state where these women lived was essentially shut down, as were many states across the country, which meant participants and celebrities were staying home. The following narratives from participants il lustrate the theme of hypocrisy. Jennifer commented on how the recent celebrity content she had noticed was referring to stay at home orders during the pandemic. Sh e called it a joke noting that these celebrities are in their really nice houses and while everyone else is in their not

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113 in your big mansion with 15 different room(s) and bowling alley and all this other stuff, flaunting their wealth during these times. anything. So a lot of times I've had to like tap out from certain celebrities, The wealth of the celebrities was not the only area that participants noted related to hypocrisy. Jennifer also mentione d that she feels like celebrities get away with more than regular people. She said she often notices that when celebrities do something wrong, they often get in less trouble or face no consequences versus if a regular person committed the same offense. Ne ither of those examples were related to feminine stereotypes, but they demonstrate that the women were critical of content, which supports SCT and their processing of information. However, a feminine stereotype that was identified was in relation to gender differences. Cara brought up the example of how outer appearance standards for men and women is hypocritically presented by media outlets and judged by audiences. She discussed the premier of the movie Hotel Transylvania , where actress Selena Gomez showed up in a nice dress and actor Adam Sandler wore a hoodies, jeans, and sneakers. standard there of like, okay, if Selena Gomez had showed up like that, people would have been like, "Oh my gosh, what is she doing? How could she ever show up to a red carpet in jeans and a hoodie? Why would she Cara went on to compare this to how male and female social media accounts differ because female celebrities are expected to look more pulled together and have an

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114 aesthetic on their social media versus male celebrities who can post more casually. However, Natalie did not feel like there was a difference between the way male celeb rities present themselves on social media versus female celebrities. Participants noted hypocrisy both in relation to the audience and gender expectations in content produced by celebrities and how celebrities are discussed within popular culture. However, these examples show a notion of critical evaluation of celebrity content but less related to feminine stereotypes. Conflicting messages . Three narratives provided by participants stood out because the women focused on conflicting messages from celebritie s. However, the and both still follow the celebrities. They discussed that the change held true to the l norms. Amy is a fan of singer Lizzo who rose in popularity during 2019 with her hit Truth Hurts . Lizzo is known for her large vocals but also for flaunting her large size including being featured on the cover of her album Cuz I Love You naked and writ ing the song Tempo message. time it didn't. But she's not as in your face with it. It's not necessarily like a, "You have to accept this." It's a, "This is me and this is normal and you're going to have her for not meeting societal expectations, which are rooted in feminine stereotypes.

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115 bodies as equal to th in bodies to a message of rebuff. Some could consider that message to be related more to protecting the celebrity. Amy described herself as a larger person, but the researcher would not have identified Amy as overweight. n size may by a reason why she notices weight related messages from celebrities like Lizzio. Amy continues to watch Lizzo and other noticed this with a few other celebritie s, but she did not identify them as feminine stereotypes but did notice that these types of messages tend to be aligned with societal norms. Cara is a fan of actress Florence Pugh. In 2020, Florence was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance i n the movie, Little Women . Cara said that Florence posted a divisive Instagram picture the day she received the nomination, where she was topless in bed and covered her bare chest with avocado emojis. People were like, "Oh my gosh, that was so cool of her," and then other people were like, "Oh my gosh, she should not have done that." I like her. I think I just tend to follow a mix of both. I like the refreshing glimpse of people who don't care about what society says and who break free of those norms. T hen I also like people who are like, "I don't care. I'm going to do what I want," while also catering to what they think society expects of them. Cara noted that Florence falls into the latter because her social media combines traditional celebrity red car pet looks and then more political and raw content like this caught up in the moment post. The issue when participants discussed celebrity content and conflicting messages was that they noticed when others were critical or they themselves were critical, b ut they were always able to identify why and that it may be because the celebrity is breaking a norm. Cara was close because when women are naked, it is usually meant to be in a sexual manner like when Faith discussed celebrities

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116 In the case of the actress Florence, she just happen s to be naked when finding out she was nominated. The expression was joy and not sexy. Amy discussed pop singer Demi Lovato who she noticed has presented conflicting messages to her fans over the years through her music and social media presence. One of the areas that Amy specifically felt was an issue was Demi glossing over her drug and alcohol issues. She kind of come back out, from what I got out of it, as just being, like, that she ever had a mental breakdown or anything like that, but she'll still talk about it in subtle ways. Amy is still a Demi fan. She is c ritical of celebrities like Demi whose messages to their fans are contradictory to what they have been through and how they acknowledge These examp les of celebrity content are individually quite different, but the participants all commented on how these celebrities, to them, presented conflicting messages to their fans and two commented that their messages changed to uphold social norms. They knew th e women were upholding However, all of the women still followed and were interested in these celebrities because they like the celebrities. Unauthentic . When it came to being critical of celebrities, several participants focused on the classic famous fo r being famous family: The Kardashians. They celebrities are unauthentic. During the interviews, participants praised their favorite celebrities for being authentic. Bet h said that she loves Chrissy Teigen and Ellen

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117 DeGeneres because they are funny, raw and personable, but that the Kardashians are all staged. And I feel like no matter, I feel like they still are just, it could be pictures of their kids, and they're still editing it and stuff like that. And it's just nonsense. Cara also felt there was a more general unauthentic nature to female celebrity content than male celebrity content. I see that with women, it's more glamor shots and more put together photos of the mselves more than it's very real, not personal, but very not put together stuff. I don't know the word I'm looking for, but ... with men I don't think they... yeah. I don't think they have to work as hard to keep up an image as women do. Cara finds it ref specific look or persona and post whatever they want. While the Kardashians were the go to for celebrities being unauthentic, it is important to note that one of the primary reasons participants said they followed their favorite celebrities on social media was because of they felt that celebrity was authentic even though the participant was less likely to discuss ways that the celebrity upheld feminine norms. Negative messages . Negative messag es in celebrity content came up throughout the interviews, but they often were discussed in how they might negatively follow a certain celebrity or even a certain group of celebrities. In communication research, third person effect is when participants say that something has an effect on effect as part of its theoretical base, but there were hints of it that emerged in responses, particularly when it comes to general negative messages. This is a broad category because these messages were discussed in relation to a variety of topics, but

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118 it did cause participants to feel negatively about c elebrity content and, for some, to avoid following that celebrity. Katrina was one of the most vocal about the messages that celebrity media sends to young women. Katrina primarily follows R&B, rap. and hip hop celebrities. She discussed seeing rapper Card i B and her boyfriend, Offset, on You see all these celebrities, they cheat on their girlfriends or wives, and then they go back to them. I feel like that's not giving out a good, I don't know the word for i t, but that's not showing other girls that they should know their worth if they see you letting this man cheat on you and you go back to them. behavior and think it is acceptable. She says it makes women not know their worth. While she would like the money of being a celebrity, she says she would not go back to s suggestive or sexy pictures, content like that. Her concern was when she knows t hose celebrities have young audiences. Empowering m essage . While the previous themes have been more negative, there were women who discussed positive messages that were present in celebrity media. Several of the women looked for empowering messages when following celebrities. Holly is a fan of Emma Watson because Emma has been outspoken about education and going back to get her college degree after the Harry Potter movies.

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119 like that, that actually means something instead of just like a silly picture, a lot of the times that leaves more of a lasting impression because I'll think, tention. Reality star and singer Scotty McCreery is also one of the celebrities that Holly follows and likes because he also went back to school for his degree after he won American Idol. Empowerment messages were discussed by several participants when sh aring the social causes celebrities were vocal about in interviews and on social media. Isabelle who was critical of celebrity hypocrisy through flaunting their wealth says that she hopes younger women will follow celebrities who encourage growth and disco veries instead of commercialism and constant consumerism. One of the celebrities she thinks has a positive and empowering message is Shailene Woodley. Several participants mentioned Shailene. She's one of those... more like thoughtful about the environment, thoughtful about social economic situations and stuff. So, I like following her because she opens my mind to different social movements that are going on. Zendaya is another popular celebrity among the women, and Isabelle sees a similar messa ge of empowerment from her. Isabelle says she appreciates that Zendaya consuming their mess ages has spurred Isabelle to sign petitions and educate herself on what is happening. Georgia thinks empowering content from celebrities comes in the form of encouraging their fans to be themselves. She likes celebrities who write songs and post

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120 online ab act a certain way to be accepted. You don't have to smile all the time. It's okay to be upset. It's okay to cry. She's basically saying why do you wait until no one's watching you to cry? You don't have to keep up that. A lot of her stuff is geared towards more young women and feeling empowered, and some of it's breakup stuff, and Empowerment is a natural extens ion of the evolving femininity theme that emerged from discussions related to defining femininity. In that theme, several women also mentioned how they associated femininity with being empowered. So, it is unsurprising that when women consume celebrity med ia that they evaluate it for this positive theme that aligns with their perspective of what femininity means. The negative to this theme is that the participants overlooked how the same celebrities with these empowering messages still upheld traditional fe mininity. Even when directly asked Isabelle admitted she noticed that some of her favorite celebrities like Shailene Woodley, Zendaya, and model turned actress Jameela Jamil upheld very traditional aspects of femininity, but mentioned that they speak out a gainst those norms and fight for people who may be less feminine or are physically larger women. Kind hearted . One of the stereotypically feminine traits that women in this study found to be a reason to follow celebrities was their perception of the cele brity as kind hearted, good hearted or seemed nice. This was exclusively applied to female celebrities. None of the women discussed this as a gendered trait nor were critical but rather one that they notice and makes them likely to follow because they find it to be a positive. Isabelle said one of her favorite musical artists is Lana Del Ray. She said that

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121 Isabelle discussed celebrities involved in social movements as good hearted people. Beth, who follows more influencer celebrities, also focused on the goodness of the moms and families that she follows, though she did not refer to the heart portion the accounts she follows are also run by women. Once again, when these women were asked directly about how their celebrities who are kind hearted uphold feminine norms none of them discussed their description of them as kind hearted or their roles as wives, moms or thin actresses. Looking a t Critical Evaluation a nd Feminine Stereotypes At the end of the interviews, participants were asked directly what they thought about messages celebrity media send to women about how they should look and a ct. The participant responses included those who agreed, those who disagreed, and those who both agreed while also disagreeing. The latter group was once again working under the theme of evolving femininity. Agree Cara was one of the participants who agre ed that celebrity media presented problematic messages: things, and you see these movies and TV shows that present women looking a certain way and acting a certain way, and then you fi nd that you yourself, can't like, "I just don't look like that, or that's not my personality Danielle focused on how sexuality is an issue in media content, which she did mention in an earlier comment related to celebrit of only two participants to discuss sexually explicit content. She agreed some celebrity presentation is an issue for women for limiting women.

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122 sexuality being promoted in the media industry. If it was me like I said, I really wouldn't do that, but in a celebrity's mind... like I said, it's all about double standard. If they accept it with men, they should accept it with women. But honestly, like I said, I don't really prefer them to kind of promote sexuality because it's just people have to realize it's so much Isabelle agreed that women are exposed to more stereotypical feminine content depending on which celebrities the individual follows. Even though she feels like she has filtered who she follows, Isabelle is still approached with content of traditional feminine ideals. Katrina also agree that it makes women feel like they have to look a certain way to b e considered pretty or to act a specific way to be successful. Odette was one of the few who rethought about previous responses when answering this question and thinking about messages she may have not consciously processed before. Odette follows an army wife who is popular on YouTube and Instagram. She's really showing that that is the role that we're supposed to play, so it really goes into how I view it as the man should be the head of the household, do you know what I mean? And he should make the deci sions, and yes a woman should have input in it, because I live there too, but at the end of the day, he's supposed to be the man of the relationship. And beliefs, was that the other one? Odette feels like the wife, Casey, does a lot of the whole feminine role playing. She works from home and takes care of the baby the majority of the time. The channel is built around her entire role as a wife and mom. Odette agrees that media plays a role in defining femininity. She, too, has felt influenced by the content really thought about it too much as someone who is strong in her faith.

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123 One theme that emerged from a couple responses was how the women discussed that these messages have an impact on those who let it. Beth, for example, nk it comes down to how you let it affect yourself personally. And I don't, I mean, I'll look at one, I'll be like, oh my gosh, she's beautiful, or oh, I wish I had her similar sentiment when she said, I think that statement is true, that the media does tend Disagree When it came with disagreeing that celebrity media presented a limited view of roles, beha viors, and appearances for women, there were few who completely disagreed with the statement. Sammy said that she disagrees that celebrity media defines how women should look and act. However, she thinks that is an issue in movies and TV. Mia disagrees par tially because she thinks that is a message that the women get from places beyond celebrity media. She hits on that same concept from the agreement group that salience of a message is impacted by the individual. Sidney disagrees because there are so many d ifferent femininities presented through celebrities and media. She believes it is too hard to conform with all the competing messages. Evolved Rissa took a more evolved stance about celebrity media messages related to whether it sets expectations for how w omen should look and act. I feel like in recent years so much has changed to where that is becoming less of a thing, and I think that a lot of actors and actresses, male and female have made it a point to use their name to say that no one has to act in a certain way. And that they don't have to be this certain person that society says. So I would disagree with that a little bit because so many

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124 people don't believe in that, they believe they should dress and act however they see fit. And I think the more I talk about it, the more I think of other actors and actresses that it just reminds me of. After thinking about this specific question, Rissa did think of other celebrities she felt upheld evolving femininity. One example was actress Jennifer Lawrence. Rissa desc ribed the actress as funny, honest and blunt. Rissa brought up an example about actres ses already ideal feminine appearance as a young, slim, blond white woman. Faith also agreed on the surface level that there is an abundance of physical beauty standards for women, and the products and the presentation can be influential. However, she see s a flipside in how celebrities can present themselves all dolled up one day and casual with their friends the next day. Faith sees this as a form of self is making s ure that people don't feel pressured to be a certain way, or pressured to Holly, who focused more on general media when discussing the question, found that some areas had evolved more than other. She was also very open abo ut admitting that she has felt impacted by these messages. I think that movies especially, definitely promote like an unhealthy body image. As far as behavior, I think going forward, I think we've become a little bit more possessive with that, to where, w omen aren't put in this box, like you need to be doing this and this and this, but you're your own person. But I do think a lot of the movies and TV shows definitely promote more of a, I guess, standard and what you would call like traditional viewpoint of how women should look and act and behave.

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125 f the few when discussing the evolution of standards for women to discuss it in relation having supporters on either side of a social expectation. It's a thing of you see a girl on TikTok that hasn't shaved under her arms and people want to get on her and be like, that's gross. Well there's also another whole spectrum who are like, no, that's absolutely not gross. Holly believes that despite there being two sides to arguments over what is and is not considered feminine that there still are standards, espe cially related to appearance. The themes that emerged in this study showcased that the emerging adult women who participated in this study were cognizant of the messages that they consumed from celebrities but they did not necessarily connect them to femi nine stereotypes on their own. The participants tended to focus more on negatives when discussing celebrities as a group or celebrities they knew were criticized by society. There were gaps in their evaluation when it came to celebrities they personally we re interested in or had more parasocial relationships. The overarching theme that emerged was through a rose colored version of femininity. They discussed the positiv e of evolving femininity and its presentation without being critical of the added expectations it may place on women. Something the mom literature has focused on as the super mom and do it all mom has entered popular narratives to tell women they can have it all while men get to have it all without the domestic heave lifting. One of the positives of evolving

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126 femininity was that the women in the study were redefining once considered negative feminine traits as positives.

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127 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION This study explores if women critically evaluate the feminine stereotypes that are embedded in celebrity media. The practical relevance for uncovering why women consume celebrity media and whether they are critical of the images and text presented is to understand th e potential influence of celebrities on young women. Media produced by and starring celebrities have been criticized for upholding feminine ideals and limiting presentation of womanhood (McDonnell, 2014). By society and media elevating celebrities, celebri ties have potential outsized influence for audiences. Understanding if and how young women critically examine the implicit and explicit messages in celebrity content became the overarching question of this research. The potential issue with celebrities in fluencing young women is that celebrities, particularly female celebrities, uphold traditional feminine stereotypes, and content they create may amplify those stereotypes as ideal (Chess & Maddox, 2018; Iqani, 2016). In media like People magazine and even on social media, celebrity content often focuses on their looks (including outfits and weight), their relationships with romantic partners and other celebrities, and their behavior, whether it is the good mom trope that is praised or breaking social norms and labeled as deviant (McDonnell, 2014). The narratives in images and text can present consumers with a limited and prescriptive view of femininity and womanhood during a new developmental period for emerging adult women. Media effects research has evolv ed over the years and posits that individuals are not mindless consumers. However, it is still a field of communications where scholars struggle to determine what an effect fully entails because of the complexities of the

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128 social world and the types of pote ntial effects from knowledge and opinions to cognitive and emotional responses (Blumler, 1979; Bryant & Zillman, 2009; Lazarsfeld, 1948; Nabi & Oliver, 2009). In addition, there are factors beyond media that influence individuals and may affect the type an d level of effect media can have (Nabi & Oliver, 2009). The researcher wanted to keep some of those other potential influences in mind during the study. So, the researcher approached this study from uses and gratifications and social cognitive theory persp ectives. These theories allowed the researcher to better understand the individuals who participated through learning about their backgrounds and the why behind their celebrity interests. It was also important to remain open minded to both positive and neg ative evaluations of celebrities. Discussion of Research Questions Research question 1 focused on what motivated emerging adult women to consume celebrity news. Previous research breaks motivation into two primary categories: intrinsic versus extrinsic m otivation (Calder & Malthouse, 2008; Deci & Ryan, 1985). The categories capture that some people are motivated by a personal interest versus others who are motivated by outside forces. When participants discussed their motivation, there were four overarchi ng themes that emerged: Information seeking, relationship building with celebrities, social cohesion, and attraction. The first two are intrinsic in nature. Information seeking is, initially, goal oriented. The participants are often exposed to the celebrity through movies, TV shows, interviews, or music. The individuals want to know more about the celebrity from their ag e and height to their spouse and children. For some, these initial information driven actions lead to following the celebrity on social media sites like Instagram but for others

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129 it is just answering a question they are curious about. Participants from high celebrity media consumers to moderate to low celebrity media consumers participated in this form of motivation. For the most part, this type of celebrity consumption was done alone after learning about the celebrity or seeing them in a show or movie. For a few, it was used in group settings. Mostly, it was used to answer a question. While this motivation was common and mentioned in nearly every interview, it was not a motivation where the participants discussed the information with much passion with the ex ception of those who discussed influencers, particularly related to beauty. Several participants went to YouTube stars to learn new make up tricks and find product reviews before making d more to what their content can do to serve the participant than about the celebrity. Celebrities become the expert in certain areas, like fashion and make up. In this case, the information that they were motivated to seek had different outcomes and thus influenced how they discussed this particular theme. The second motivation was relationship building with celebrities. Relationship building focused on wanting to know celebrities more informally and to make them feel like real people, which mirrors paraso cial relationships. Based on how the young women discussed relationship with celebrities, this leaned toward an intrinsic motivation. They talked about why they wanted to know more about the celebrity, and their reasons were focused on their curiosity in c discussed this theme implicitly, did not

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130 being part of the reason they kept following the celebrity and some participants noted promotion or branded advertisements for products. They are seeking with them, typically on social media. Some participants, in fact, were so disinterested in movies or shows even if it features the actor or actress they follow on social media. For the most part, individuals wanted relationships with specific celebrities and not celebrities in general. Parasocial relationships are also based on more of a one on one relationshi p. In these first two motivations, there is the emergence of how participants use different channels for accessing information about celebrities. When it comes to information seeking without a relationship, they were going to Google for quick searches. On the other hand, when they were searching for more of a relationship when getting to know the celebrity, the women were more often going to social media to see daily updates and behind the scenes content. Throughout the interviews, different media platform s were discussed as part of the relationship with celebrities and how the participants shared information with others. On the surface, relationship building appears to be an intrinsic motivation for participants. Most participants discussed their relation ships with celebrities as personal. A few mentioned that when they were younger, they followed more popular celebrities because everyone was following them. Justin Bieber was an example two participants discussed because he once had the highest number of f ollowers on Instagram. Some noted they still follow some celebrities who they no longer keep up with or care about,

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131 the likely underlying reason they may still follow is because other people follow those celebrities. By continuing to follow these celebrities, the woman gains social collateral. While they may think they have an interest in building a relationship with that celebrity that seems self motivated, there is evide nce from the responses that an extrinsic force is also coupled with that interest. The third theme that developed in relation to motivation is celebrity news for social cohesion. This theme was evident in previous research. The idea was that knowing about celebrities provides a form of social currency for individuals. Multiple women discussed how they talk about celebrity content with friends, they share it through text and direct messages, and they even use the information to bond when they meet new peopl e. However, none of the participants discussed if they were motivated to consume celebrity media specifically for this outcome. Holly, for example, watches a popular reality television because it is a social event for her friend group and keeps up loosely with the stars because her friends do. However, she says if she really likes a particular reality star then she follows them on social media. Social cohesion is a prominent extrinsic theme, but the women did not explicitly express their motivation for cons uming celebrity media was because they could use the information in social situations. That may be a product of not noticing the catalyst because the women have been socialized to consume celebrity media and implicitly understand its use or just not being aware that this is the motivating reason for consumption. The final theme is also an intrinsic theme that emerged: attraction. It is not with the other intrinsic motivations because it was directed more at the celebrity rather than

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132 with the celebrity cont ent in mind. There was also a lack of awareness for cultural standards of attractiveness that was projected. This was a lso a surface level motivation that was a bit surprising to hear repeatedly. While celebrity status is associated with good looks, multip le women verbalized that they followed certain celebrities because they found the celebrity attractive. A couple seemed a little embarrassed when they said it, but others stated it very clearly and without guilt. Interestingly, they mostly talked about fol lowing male celebrities because they liked the way they looked masculine . When it came to female celebrities, they discussed following because they liked the Only one referred to a female celebrity as attractive. This was interesting because the celebrities these women followed were mostly conventionally good looking and upheld feminine ideals for beauty. There may have just been an understood feeling that celebrity wom en are attractive. Both intrinsic and extrinsic motivations were present. It appeared that intrinsic motivation had more nuances than extrinsic, which was socially driven. A motivation that did not arise that is surprising was escape. Previous media resea rch had found escapism to be a popular motivation for consumers. When the researcher asked about media habits in general, mood management was also identified but not when discussing celebrities (Holt & Thompson, 2004). The only mood the participants discus sed was enjoyment when looking at content they liked and negative outlooks when looking at content they thought was inappropriate, so the mood management was not related to the celebrity but more about the content.

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133 The second research question explored ho w the young women defined femininity. The women were directly asked to define femininity about three quarters of the way through the interview to see how their definition compared to how they previously discussed personal and professional goals, fashion, m edia habits and celebrities, and before discussing celebrities and media influence again in subsequent questions. There were two reasons that question was not initially asked. First, the researcher wanted to discuss media and celebrities without highlighti ng that she was interested in feminine traits or descriptions. Media literacy research often works with a stimulus and a control between groups to see if educating the participants impacts influence or what the participants notice. The researcher wanted th e women discussing celebrities based on what they wanted to discuss and notice before being primed. The second reason was because femininity may be a hard concept to define. Starting off with that question may have led to too m any participants develop between the researcher and the participant . It was also placed after the participant had discussed initial thoughts on celebrities but not a ll her thoughts on more pointed questions related to celebrity and femininity. The emerging theme for how the women defined femininity was as evolving. The researcher named the theme evolving femininity. This could have been two themes: a traditional definition and a more modern definition; however, the reality was participants talked about both forms of femininity. The connection and reason to keep it as one theme was how the women redefined some concepts of femininity that were previously considered more negative traits and seeing them as positives. The definitions focused

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134 on empowering women. They discussed career goals in male dominated fields and embracing words like grace as an essential trait for leaders. However, this definition poin ts to an issue within femininity, which is that women have more expectations about how to socially uphold femininity. The broadened definition by these women presents fewer limitations for accessing the financial freedom many of these women expressed and t heir desire to work and have families. Though the evolving definition still traps The third research question was an extension of the second research question because it explored how women uphold or reject feminine stereotypes. This was taking their definitions and applying it to themselves. The overarching theme that was present them to identify w ith the parts of traditional femininity that they are able to or are interested in upholding while giving them the freedom to discuss ways they behave or goals they have that would have been against feminine stereotypes in the past. However, they all discu ssed the expectations they feel to dress a certain way or perform specific household duties because of how they were raised. The primary way women discussed feminine norms both ones they feel like need to uphold and ones they do uphold was through ap pearance. This is not surprising since criticism of the feminine body has been normalized as has the demands appearance through clothes. Overlooking thinness may be a result of increased attention of the negative effects of thin media on body image and awareness of airbrushing celebrities in magazines. Instead, the participants discussed the pressure to

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135 look good by being concerned about what others think of you and what messa ges clothes send. One participant did discuss colors that she prefers because she thinks they are feminine even at a funeral, she chose to wear a light pink dress because it makes her appear softer, which she acknowledged. What it came down to, whether t he person was getting dressed for work or wearing Nike shorts and a t shirt, was selecting an outfit that was socially acceptable for women for the time and place. Though expectations have shifted. These women felt less pressure to wear dresses because of the culture of the town where they attend college . Research question 4 explored the type of content that young women seek when they follow celebrities or the type of celebrity media they enjoy. This could have been a list of diverse topics that they disc ussed, but there was a common theme from the outfits to their celebrities of choice struggles with mental illness they could relate to the content at some level. This was one of the more surprising findings because celebrities are socioeconomically dista nt from the every day person. There are two primary reasons this theme may have emerged. First, the definition of celebrity was broad. Participants defined and discussed celebrities based on who they included in their definition. Figure 4 1 in the results section showcases some of those definitions. For the most part, they included entertainment celebrities like singers and actors and microcelebrities like Instagram Influencers and YouTube stars. Many of the participants discussed the microcelebrities in re lation to having content that applies to the daily lives of participants. They saw themselves or a future version of themselves wearing those outfits from what they had or envisioning their family like those they follow. Entertainment celebrities were also mentioned in this group, especially when it c omes to

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136 causes they support or experiences related to bad relationships , for how they relate to relatable is the fact that s ocial media allow celebrities to showcase the less glamorous parts of their lives, like being bored in their house and wearing sweatpants on the couch on a Thursday evening. The outcome of this question and primary theme may have been slightly different ha d influencers not been included or society had not been under stay at home orders, but the women all mentioned content that they could relate to or would like to relate too. The fifth research question focused on engagement with celebrity content. The ide a was that engaging with celebrity content potentially could mean more of an investment time, money, etc. but for some it could be an automatic response without really processing what the woman was consuming because she had been trained to nt or would just comment. The reality was that these women participated, but in more limited ways than expected, which was surprising considering celebrity one of the the content. A few were less discerning and focused on if they thought something was cute or interesting. Ho wever, the participants from this study rarely commented. For some, it was anxiety would see their comment. One of the most interesting perspectives was the awareness that the re lationships they have via social media which can provide some two way communication thanks to interactivity options were mostly one way. Parasocial

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137 relationships have always involved one party being more aware than the other of the relationship, but th ere is a possibly of more two way communication because of social relationships which have been described as giving individuals a sense of friendships may not be the same goal that younger generations have when they follow celebrities. The theme related to engagement, where participants demonstrated more interactivity, was taking the online information and using it offline with friends. This theme was coded as online to off line discussion. Previous research suggested that motivation and engagement are related because motivation often leads to engagement (Calder & Malthouse, 2008), and that was the case in this study. However, Calder and Malthouse look at engagement from a mo re quantitative stance than this study, which is not measuring the amount but rather uncovering the why behind the motivation, exploring themes that were shared amongst the participants, and looking at it in relation to engagement. Intrinsic motivation to build relationships with celebrities did not result in comments. The extrinsic motivation to consume celebrity news did translate to offline engagement. The themes for e xtrinsic motivation and engagement aligned because engagement with the content individually leads to sharing with friends, family and even strangers for social cohesion. Major Finding The overarching question this study wanted to explore was research que stion 6, do women critically evaluate the celebrity media they consume in relation to femininity. erested in the short -

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138 terms effects of hyperawareness. Instead, the interview was designed to discuss celebrity media in general with guided to questions to ask the participants what they like rch was informed by media literacy. The open process when they are making decisions about who to follow, what content they engage with, and if and how they think about the information presented. When the participants base level media literacy presented itself. The participants, even those who liked the Kardashians, were able to regurgitate information about the negatives of the wealth flaunting family and general criticisms of celebrity media related to body image issues and sexy images also emerged. Overall, the participants were critical of celebrity media. This is a positive because it confirms that media are not mindlessly consumed but that individuals are active in their consumption habits as uses and gratifications suggests (Wimmer & Dominick, 1994). In addition, when the participants were discussing some of the t like other content, they referenced their own personal struggles with topics like weight or skin issues or their religious experiences impact how information is proces sed. When it came to being critical of the text, videos, pictures, and interviews posted or related to celebrities, there were six themes that emerged across the 18 interviews. They were hypocrisy, conflicting messages, unauthentic, negative messages, emp owering content, and kind heartedness. The first four focused more on negative

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139 aspects of celebrity, and the final two focused more on positive evaluations. It was important to the researcher to look for negative and positive evaluations because media effe cts literature and media literacy can become focused on only negatives, and these women presented positive aspects as well. Hypocrisy and conflicting messages were split into two categories because the majority of participants discussed these concepts dif ferently. Hypocrisy was a lack of acknowledgement of the difference between the celebrity and the consumer or between standards for celebrities of different genders. On the other hand, conflicting messages in celebrity media were related more to celebritie s changing their message to fit the cultural narrative or align with societal norms. The interesting part of these two themes was that women perceived hypocrisy to be more of a negative than celebrities who change their message. Several of the participants said they appreciated the shift in their message without acknowledging their former message or experience that is perceived to be more negative. Unauthentic was the next critical theme that emerged. This is another theme that is related to parasocial relationships because it is associated with how the women get to know celebrities. Despite the content being mediated, the women want to feel like they are seeing the real lif e of celebrities and understanding their personalities as opposed to the characters they play or the way they are presented by outside media. Participants criticized celebrities who seem to edit their photos and especially pointed to the requirements of female celebrities to have an aesthetic versus posting a causal picture. When the women perceived the photos as authentic, they found it refreshing.

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140 Negative messages are a broad theme because each woman discussed content they read and watched related to way in order to feel accepted. The commonality between the different examples was the women felt the messages were negative. While they women did not explicitly state that celebrities were role models, their discussion about how they feel about celebrity content and their concerns expressed that they thought celebrities were influential. The women discussed how celebr health, physical, and emotional health. They were also concerned about the impact these messages have on women and girls who are younger than them because these messages and images may set bad examples. Th is is the concern media effects research has also focused on because of the potential outsized influence. The last two themes are more positive: empowering messages and kind heartedness. Empowering messages could have gone in the content section; however, it was discussed in more depth than being just about the celebrity empowering them or just about the content that attracted them. It was a combination that lead participants to follow specific celebrities and to go beyond. Participants found these message s educational and inspiring. They discussed how celebrities use their own voice and their privilege to help others from Black Lives Matter to reforming the beauty industry. In addition, celebrity messages also encouraged fans to be themselves. The last theme was kind heartedness. This was only discussed by three participants in three different terms kind hearted, nice and caring. All of these adjectives are stereotypical traits associated with women. However, the participants

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141 gative feminine traits or as feminine traits at all. Instead they were highlighted as a reason to follow celebrities. While the last two themes are positive, they were included in the critical section luation of content. When the women discussed noticing empowering messages in celebrity media, they appeared to focus exclusively on that positive instead of noticing the ways that the celebrities also upheld traditional feminine stereotypes particularly re lated to their looks. When messages, the researcher asked specifically about how those celebrities also upheld feminine stereotypes. The women skirted the question or followe d up with the good things they did. The kindhearted trait was included because while this theme shows that evaluation with feminine traits. The question becomes, do they see this as a positive because kind heartedness is a good trait or are they trained to look for women who are kind hearted because society expects that? This study did not answer that question but uncovered that feminine traits exist but may not be noticed for that criteria. In both of these themes, the women were discussing celebrities they personally follow and enjoy their content. They were less critical of the potential negative messages presented by these celebrities. This could be a result of social desirability and not wanting to admit that they recognize the negative messages and how they accept those or it could be simply not noticing because of their personal interest or relationship. When asked specifically about limiting feminine messages in cel ebrity media, participants were mostly split into two group. The first who agreed that celebrity

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142 media presented limited perspectives on feminine appearance and social roles. They discussed this in general terms and mostly avoided pointing to particular ce lebrities. The other group said, they had noticed it but that they also noticed how celebrity media was changing to present broader ideas related to feminine norms. However, they mostly had to be primed to discuss this topic and did not express these conce rns or issues when discussing their issues with celebrity content. The outcome is that young women are critical of some messages and more critical when they think about celebrities as a whole, but they are less critical of their favorite celebrities and d stereotypes as much. Practical Implications One of the major findings of this study is that informal media literacy through daily life has taught emerging adult women that celebrity messages may negatively impact them. The women ackno wledged that media, both related to celebrities and in awareness has led to the participants being more critical of the celebrity media they consume and who they decide to follow. On the other hand, despite knowing the potential negative impact, these young women still seek out celebrity content regularly. In addition, celebrity media were once considered a low brow guilty pleasure, but none of the participants expressed emb arrassment about following celebrities most citing that their friends and families were also interested in celebrities. The practical implication is that this research gives a better understanding of what messages are being critically evaluated and how that may be influenced by In addition, the study demonstrates that celebrity interest often starts at the individual level with wanting to know more about a celebrity

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143 and get daily insight into their lives. That insigh t can turn into relationships with the celebrity and with other people, from friends to acquaintances, who share an interest and knowledge of a particular celebrity. This relationship may le a d to social cohesion or social cohesion can lead to interest beca use celebrities can provide that common cultural thread between different people. Theoretical Implications Uses and gratifications and social cognitive theory are foundational for this study. The practical implications are a bit more apparent than the the oretical ones, but the theoretical implications are important to what is happening below the surface. Katz, Blumler and Gurevitch (1974) described five basic assumptions of uses and gratification , and some of these are apparent in the responses. The first is the concept of an active audiences. The participants sought different platforms in order to gain the information or have the experience they desired in relation to celebrity content consumption. They would go to Google for quick directory information (a ge, birthplace, height, spouse/partner) versus going to Instagram and TikTok for seeing how they celebrity is spending his or her day. This upholds the goal oriented aspect of U&G as well. In addition, many of the women were making conscious decisions to l ook up the information or to check in on celebrities, which is a key to be active. This latter item also plays into the assumption of linking a need to a specific media choice by the audience member. Many of these women have been home because of COVID 19, and they have gone to TikTok for entertainment. They have looked up celebrities to see what they are doing while under stay at home or safer at home orders were in effect. The participants were keenly aware of some of their media use when it came to type o f content they enjoyed, how they engaged with content, and what type of content they used or shared

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144 in their every day lives. However, they were less critical of the content and the deeper why behind following. Many said they liked the content because it w as relevant or because they wanted to know more about the celebrity, which was a good start. The researcher identified some of their implicit whys through the themes. The evidence of uses and gratifications was present and obvious to the participate when i t came to information seeking, but it was more nuanced when it came to relationship building and the uses of the information they gleaned from their consumption. This study furthers the understanding of uses and gratifications research because it showcases how these women choose content and the benefits and drawbacks of the experience. Social cognitive theory is also critical for this study because the theory recognizes that media is not the only source where women learn about femininity. While this study was interested in celebrity media influence, the women provided insights into how their personal background has influenced how they uphold and/or reject femininity and even view femininity . They included examples from their families as well as celebrity c ontent in relation to presentation of femininity or breaking feminine stereotypes. Th supports the notion that while SCT is built on agentic perspectives , these women understand that their decisions are, in part, influenced by th SCT also highlights that part of its assumptions includes individuals feeling as though they can behave in expected ways in order to adopt that behavior and to know that that when they perform in a specific way that they can predict a positive outcome. This element of SCT was evident in the Evolving Femininity theme. These women wanted to set

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145 themselves up for success by defining it in a way they felt they could uphold while remaining steadfast to some tenants of stereotypical femininity because they understand expectations of women in society. This balance of understanding expectations and processing their environment and desires for positive outcomes learned vicariously in some cases through celebrities connects their conversations back to SCT. Limitations The chief limitation of this study, as for many qualitative studies, was that the sample is limited. Participants were from a small geographical background, from the younger end of the age range, and were predominantly white. In addition, this study used p rimarily sorority women (17 of the 18 participants), which could have impacted the results because sororities are often associated with feminine stereotypes of beauty, sisterhood, and meeting men. At the university where this study is conducted, the majori ty of women are in sororities, so it would have been challenging and unbalanced to avoid them. In the future, a balance of sorority and non sorority women at the current age group would be beneficial to look at differences in perception of celebrities and femininity. However, the data collected from this group because of the long interviews was robust and provided a holistic look at the individual women discussing their family structure, personal and professional goals, how they spend their time, media habi ts, The study asked participants about celebrities. Since it was not using a predetermined definition, participants were able to interpret the term celebrity for themselves. This co are interested in would not be considered celebrity. During the study, there are times

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146 when entertainment celebrities were left out of themes or had little presence versus platform base d celebrities, which may impact potential influence and observation. Using a thematic analysis to saturation provided a broad range of themes; however, these themes present a form of subjectivity. While the study was informed by previous research, themes were not predefined and the researcher coded the content not based on present in quantitative studies. Thus, another researcher using the same data could have reached similar conclusions though they may not be identical. Another important consideration is the historical timing of this research. This study was conducted in Spring 2020, which was when the COVID 19 pandemic sent the United States into varying degrees of lock down. Universities moved to online formats and many individuals were home more than normal, including the participants and celebrities. Themes that emerged in this study could have been responsive to this historic time. However, there were also ben efits that made the pandemic a good time to conduct this study. Those included: individuals were spending more time engaging with media, they commented that celebrity content appeared to be more authentic, and there was less peddling of products in the cel ebrity content they consumed. This presented an opportunity to discuss celebrities because participants were watching them. Future Research Celebrity research is a growing field in communications, and this study presents future opportunities for in depth exploration. First, the researcher would like to expand this study to a more geographical diverse group of women and study the same questions with the women in different age groups, including adolescence and women in

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147 their 30s, 40s, and 50s. Previous resea rch says that interest in celebrities is strongest in adolescence and young adulthood and wanes through adulthood. The researcher would like to see if that is still true or, if like this research, women are less interested in celebrities in general as they age but follow a few specific celebrities that could be influential. Another area that the researcher would like to explore is the different types of influence and level of influence between a traditional entertainment celebrity and platform specific cel ebrities like YouTubers and Instagram Influencers. The Instagram Influencer market has become its own celebritized industry and advertisers are seeing national advertisi ng, some like Draper James and lifestyles brand are leveraging influencers in social media advertising. Combining the power of an entertainment celebrity with the popularity of influencers that have more contact wit h target audiences. This research could take a few different directions including differences in engagement habits between traditional and micro celebrities or understanding which celebrity advertisement strategy is more effective for consumers. Conclusio n The implications of this study are two fold. The researcher sought to better order to understand that why, the research first needed to understand the who. This included the sample of women as well as how the women defined celebrity. Defining celebrity proved to be fragmented because of different interpretations, especially related to new platforms that have emerged. Motivation had three themes that emerged. Two were intrinsi c: information seeking and relationship building. And one motivation was

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148 extrinsic: social cohesion. These demonstrated uses and gratifications because they all answered a need that was experienced consciously or unconsciously known to the participant. A n extension of motivation was understanding engagement. The engagement themes aligned with those of motivation. One was more intrinsic liking content that was of interest and one more extrinsic sharing the content found online with friends offline. T he researcher also sought to understand femininity how it was defined by participants, how they upheld it or rejected it, and whether they noticed its messages in the celebrity content they consumed. The theme that emerged was evolving femininity because the participants discussed traditional feminine characteristics and traits and redefined them in ways that were more empowering and how they should be seen as positives and not negatives. While not noted by participants, their additions to what is feminin e continues to place more expectations on women to do and have it all. Their evolving definition also aligned with how they accepted and rejected femininity personally. The overarching question of this research asked if women are critical of the stereotyp ical feminine messages in celebrity media. The answer is as nuanced as the participants. They notice some messages, particularly when looking at celebrities as a whole because of societal discussions related to the negatives of celebrities, but they also a stereotypes. This study demonstrates that these young women are actively participating in celebrity media consumption for both themselves and others. They are also active in processing at least some of these messages.

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149 APPENDIX A INTERVIEW PROTOCOL Opening/warm up question: How has your day been? How was class/work? I want this question to be an icebreaker for conversation. This will help me build a rapport with the participant. It may also provide me with some information about them that I can refer to. They may tell me about classes that lead me to ask key question 2, which would feel natural. It may lead me to asking more about them. Key question 1: Tell me a little about yourself? If she needs prodding I will ask her about where she is from and her family. I want to know if she is from a two family home, where parents occupy traditional roles. Did she come from a single parent home, where her parent was responsible for the roles of both parents? What do her parents or guardians do for work? Key question 2: What are you studying in school? Follow up: When you think about yourself in 5 to 7 years, what do you hope to accomplish professionally and personally? This is a very natural question to ask college students, so it should come off as demographic style question. However, when they tell m e their major, I will ask them about why they picked that major. What the make up of their classes are like from a gender perspective. Where they as nursing ver sus engineering. Are they making this decision based on gendered stereotypes they hold about themselves or following in the footsteps of another family member? Key question 3: F ollow up scenario: Imagine you are going for a fun evening out. Tell me about how you would get ready, what you might wear, and other details related to an evening including who you might be going with? The goal of this question is to continue learning m ore about how they spend their time and how they describe their relationships with friends and significant others. I am looking for implicit meaning behind their descriptions related to gendered concepts, such as emphasis on their appearance when going out . They may say they like to hang out in the square. A follow up may be about how they tend to dress for those outings and also about what they often talk about. Or if they say they go to the movies, then I could follow up with similar questions about how t hey decide what to watch and what kinds of movies they like. This is the trickiest area because I want to get an understanding of their application or lack of application of femininity in their daily

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150 lives. I see this as the primary challenge. Will she exp licitly state environmental cues related to femininity that she sees or experiences? Key question 4: What types of TV shows, movies, or magazines do you watch most often? Follow up What do you like about those shows/movies/magazines? This question i s being used to understand types of movies and TV shows the young woman watches. Does she watch mostly rom coms? Is she into murder documentaries? Does she watch mostly reality TV shows? The goal is to start figuring out what attracts her attention to medi a. Key question 5: What social media do you like to use? What do you like about social media? This needs to be posed because it is a primary way young women learn about and receive celebrity content. It is also a primary outlet for engaging with celebr ity content. This allows me to address the platforms accurately in the following key questions. Key question 6: I heard you mention that beyond friends you like to follow celebrities. Why do you follow celebrities? Follow up: What celebrities do you follow? Why do you follow (name of celebrity)? Do you engage with her/him or share her/his content online? Follow up: Can you tell me about when you might share content online or with your friends in person related to what a celebrity p osts? How do you engage with content from a TV show or movie? and whether they follow celebrities. Looking for motivations she might have for consuming. This is also a chance to see if talking about celebrities is something that excites her and she seems passionate about. If she is excited, she may point out the positives. If she is not excited, she may express disinterest but also may point to the negativ es of celebrity content. One of the responses I might get is that the woman likes getting behind the scenes access to the celebrity or as a way to feel like they know the person. This seems like a natural response, and I will want to follow up by asking them to describe some of the more memorable posts/images. I want to see if they notice what the celebrity is wearing or what she is doing that recent drunken posts . This was a first for Taylor and deviates from her feminine persona. Despite the fact that she has a bad history with men often the victim in her songs, Taylor has managed to keep a pretty demur persona, so this was deviant for her. Key question 7: F rom what other sources besides social media do you seek out and engage with celebrity news and information?

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151 This needs to be asked to see if there is something beyond the most current research that I might be missing. Key question 8: Do you ever find you rself wanting to look like, emulate or create content like your favorite celebrities? Follow up: Talk to me about a time when the way a celebrity dressed or something they posted made you want to be like them? This is where it could get tricky agaib beca use I am trying to get to social cognitive theory and whether the person is experiencing observational learning and how she processes and applies the experience. Ending questions I have decided to be a bit more direct with the ending questions to make s ure I get the content I am looking for. Key question 9: How would you define celebrity? Key question 10: How would you describe femininity? Follow up: In what ways do you think you uphold femininity and in what ways do you feel you reject it? Key question 11: Research suggests that celebrity media, from movies and TV to social media and magazines, give many messages about how women should lo ok, how they should behave, and the roles they should hold. What do you think? How does that effect you personally?

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179 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Andrea Elizabeth Hall received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida. Her research over the years has focused on presentation of parental gender in news, social media activism, and celebrity influence. She graduated from the Universi ty of Missouri career, Andrea was a Lifestyles Editor for The Greenwood Commonwealth in Mis sissippi. She also worked as a graphic designer for Orlando Signature magazine Engineering.