Cozying up to the Kardashians: An Affiliation Coping Explanation for Consumers’ Affinity towards Celebrity Gossip
Despite the widespread popularity of celebrity gossip magazines and online portals, surprisingly little academic research has examined people’s motivation for consuming “celebrity gossip,” which we define as speculative media content about relatively unknown aspects of celebrities’ personal lives. Using a compensatory consumption framework, we propose an affiliation-based coping explanation for consumers’ affinity towards celebrity gossip and test our theorizing in three studies. We find that self-threats that induce an avoidance motivational orientation (e.g., social exclusion, personal control threat) increase individuals’ propensity to consume celebrity gossip (vs. non-gossip) articles. However, this effect is attenuated for self-threats that induce an approach motivational orientation (e.g., intelligence threat), suggesting that celebrity gossip consumption is an emotion-focused, rather than problem-focused, means of coping. Desire to affiliate with close others, triggered after avoidance-motivation self-threats, mediates the relationship between self-threat and celebrity gossip consumption. The gossip articles make celebrities appear more relatable, and increase readers’ feelings of closeness with them. We thus suggest that gossip articles enable one-sided or parasocial relationships with celebrities, becoming effective coping mechanisms for certain self-threats.
More information on Jayant Nasa can be found here: https://www.isb.edu/fpm/student-profiles/jayant-nasa