When Good Friends Say Goodbye: A Parasocial Breakup Study
This study examines viewers' reactions to parasocial breakup with mediated characters in light of interpersonal and mass communication theories. Following the airing of the last episode of the television show Friends, 279 students completed surveys assessing their viewing habits, their attitudes toward the show and their favorite character, and their loneliness. The intensity of the parasocial relationship with the favorite character is the strongest predictor of breakup distress. Other predictors include commitment and affinity to the show, the character's perceived popularity, and the participant's loneliness. The results shed light on the similarities and differences between parasocial and social relationships.