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YouTubers Offer Emotional Support

One-Sided Relationships Deliver

YouTubers Offer Emotional Support

By John Salak –

Those in need of a feel-good friend may need to look no further than YouTube. Apparently, one-sided relationships with YouTubers are more emotionally fulfilling than talking to casual friends, a new study suggests.

The University of Essex research discovered people feel watching online stars like Zoella, KSI and PewDiePie bring them more cheer than weak-tie acquaintances, think neighbors or co-workers.

YouTube visitors also feel more liked, respected and understood by fictional characters, according to the study’s leader Dr. Veronica Lamarche. The results suggest watching online celebrities in what is termed as parasocial relationships offers positive reinforcement, even though these celebs can’t respond.

“Parasocial relationships are an important part of our psychological toolbox when it comes to feeling like we have people out there who can validate and support us in times of need, even if we can never actually meet with them in reality,” Lamarche said.

“This isn’t a last resort for very young or lonely among us. In our studies, people of all ages reported feeling like they had a strong connection to at least one fictional character, celebrity or online personality that they’ve never met,” she added.

The university’s results were drawn from three different investigations involving more than 1,080 people from Britain and the U.S. on how they perceive parasocial relationships.

Most participants, 52 percent, reported having a strong parasocial relationship, while 36 percent said they felt close to a YouTuber.

Ultimately, the participants who averaged 36 years old, reported they found “one-sided” friendships can fulfill emotional needs in ways that mirror traditional relationships. These imagined relationships were seen as more effective at fulfilling their emotional needs than acquaintances or similar weak ties.

In the flesh relationships, however, still matter. Strong two-sided relationships, such as romantic relationships or close friendships, were consistently seen as the most effective connection for fulfilling emotional needs.

“People naturally believe their closest relationships are the best way of fulfilling their emotional needs,” Lamarche added.

“However, when people were asked to think about a recent time where a close other had hurt their feelings, some people became even more confident that their parasocial ties would be able to respond to their needs.”

Apparently, these parasocial relationships are being increasingly found on YouTube.





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