‘Celebrity’ past exam questions with example answers
Exam question topics in previous years:
Jan 2010: Attraction of celeb...
Jan 10
>Discuss how social psychology explains the attraction of
celebrity. (4 marks + 6 marks)
A01
Parasocial relationshi...
report methods tend to suffer from social desirability bias, where pps may lie
about their attraction to a celebrity so as...
A01
Celebrities allow us to gossip – which may have been adaptive for our ancestors
as a way of exchanging social informat...
Celebrity Worship
Jan 13
>Outline findings of
research into celebrity
worship. (4 marks)
According to the 'absorption-addi...
However, the motivational forces driving this absorption may eventually become
addictive, leading the person to more extre...
A02
There are clear implications for the media following the results of research into
celebrity worship. It has been found...
Celebrity Stalking
Jan 12
>Outline and evaluate research into
celebrity stalking. (4 marks + 6
marks)
A01
Meloy: Two types...
often suffer from social desirability bias where pps may lie to appear more
normal to the researcher, this further reducin...
Intense Fandom
Jun 11
>Outline and evaluate findings of research
into intense fandom. (4+6)
A01
According to the 'absorpti...
retrospective childhood attachment types and their current attachment types
using self-report measures. It was found that ...
The majority of the fans are showing E-S as they discuss concerts and band
souvenirs. However, the fans who spend weekends...
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  1. 1. ‘Celebrity’ past exam questions with example answers Exam question topics in previous years: Jan 2010: Attraction of celebrity June 2010: x Jan 2011: Celebrity worship June 2011: Intense fandom Jan 2012: Celebrity worship June 2012: Attraction of celebrity Jan 2013: Celebrity worship June 2013: Intense fandom Attraction of celebrity Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  2. 2. Jan 10 >Discuss how social psychology explains the attraction of celebrity. (4 marks + 6 marks) A01 Parasocial relationships are where an individual is attracted to another individual (usually a celebrity), but the target individual is usually unaware of the existence of the person who has created the relationship. Such relationships, common among celebs and their fans, might be particularly appealing to some individuals because the relationship makes few demands. The individual does not run the risk of criticism or rejection, as might be the case in a real relationship. A02 Much research has been conducted into PSRs. Cole and Leets (1999) found that people with insecure-ambivalent attachment style (characterised by a concern that others will not reciprocate one's desire for intimacy) often turn to PSRs as a means of satisfying their unrealistic and often unmet relational needs. Whereas people with an avoidant attachment style find it difficult to develop intimate relationships and therefore are less likely to seek real life or PSRs. Therefore, this supports this explanation, although it suggests that there may be other factors which need exploring from other perspectives. A01 According to the 'absorption-addiction model' most people never go beyond admiring celebrities because of the celebrity’s entertainment or social value. However, the motivational forces driving this absorption may eventually become addictive, leading the person to more extreme behaviours to sustain satisfaction with the PSR. There are three levels to this process: 1. Entertainment-social: fans are attracted to the celebrity because they are a source of social interaction e.g. Gossip 2. Intense-personal: obsessional tendencies reflecting intense and compulsive feelings for the celebrity 3. Borderline-pathological: uncontrollable behaviour and fantasies about the celebs. The person may actually believe they are in a relationship with the celebrity. A02 Most of the research on PSRs has simply involved asking people about their attitudes to celebrities. Critics argue that experimental manipulations may be more effective in determining the causes of identification with a celebrity. Self Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  3. 3. report methods tend to suffer from social desirability bias, where pps may lie about their attraction to a celebrity so as to appear more 'normal'. This suggests that the research may be low in validity. A02 Often, the research has relied on the use of Likert scale questions. Likert Scales have the advantage over closed questions that they do not expect a simple yes / no answer from the respondent, but rather allow for degrees of opinion, and even no opinion at all. Therefore quantitative data is obtained, which means that the data can be analysed with relative ease. A02 The social psychological explanations may be limited in their explanations, as other explanations (e.g. the evolutionary explanation) argue that we are attracted to celebrities through a desire for a mate (sexual selection) and therefore we are attracted to celebs because of their creativity. Jun 12 >Outline one or more evolutionary explanations of the attraction of ‘celebrity’. (4 marks) Humans possess a love of novelty (known as neophilia). Females would demand ever-more creative displays from potential partners. Because musicians, artists and actors display these talents in abundance, we are inevitably drawn to them. Celebrities allow us to gossip – which may have been adaptive for our ancestors as a way of exchanging social information about other group members. Gossip creates bonds within social groups and allows us to initiate and maintain alliances; it also allows us to construct and manipulate reputations, and to exchange relevant information about potential mates. Our minds are fooled into regarding media characters as being members of our social network, thus celebrities trigger the same gossip mechanisms that have evolved to keep up with the affairs of ingroup members. >Discuss how the evolutionary explanation explains the attraction of celebrity (4+6) A01 Humans possess a love of novelty (known as neophilia). Females would demand ever-more creative displays from potential partners. Because musicians, artists and actors display these talents in abundance, we are inevitably drawn to them. Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  4. 4. A01 Celebrities allow us to gossip – which may have been adaptive for our ancestors as a way of exchanging social information about other group members. Gossip creates bonds within social groups and allows us to initiate and maintain alliances; it also allows us to construct and manipulate reputations, and to exchange relevant information about potential mates. Our minds are fooled into regarding media characters as being members of our social network, thus celebrities trigger the same gossip mechanisms that have evolved to keep up with the affairs of ingroup members. A02 There is evidence for an evolved love of creativity. Shiraishi discovered an enzyme correlated with novelty-seeking tendencies. Genetic differences mean that people produce different variations of an enzyme called MAOA. One form of this enzyme was significantly associated with higher scores of novelty- seeking, suggesting that there may be a genetic origin for neophilia and our attraction to creative people. A02 Evolutionary theories are criticised as being speculative. Suggesting that a love of novelty arose because early females prefer creativity in potential mates tell us nothing about why they would prefer it. This explanation does not provide an adequate adaptive reason to explain why traits such as theses would have been attractive. A02 There is research support for the adaptive role of celebrity gossip. DeBacker surveyed over 800 pps to test the evolutionary explanations for celebrity gossip. Pps reported that gossip was seen as a useful way of acquiring information about social group members. Media exposure was also found to be a strong predictor of interest in celebrities. He concluded that media exposure would lead to the misperception that celebrities were actually a part of the social network, thus explaining the interest in celebrity gossip. Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  5. 5. Celebrity Worship Jan 13 >Outline findings of research into celebrity worship. (4 marks) According to the 'absorption-addiction model' most people never go beyond admiring celebrities because of the celebrity’s entertainment or social value. However, the motivational forces driving this absorption may eventually become addictive, leading the person to more extreme behaviours to sustain satisfaction with the PSR. McCutcheon's 'absorption-addiction model' identifies three levels to celebrity worship: 1. Entertainment-social: fans are attracted to the celebrity because they are a source of social interaction e.g. Gossip 2. Intense-personal: obsessional tendencies reflecting intense and compulsive feelings for the celebrity 3. Borderline-pathological: uncontrollable behaviour and fantasies about the celebs. The person may actually believe they are in a relationship with the celebrity. Cheung and Yue found that celebrity worship has been associated with less desirable developmental outcomes (eg work, study and self-esteem) than those who worship more tangible models eg key family members or teachers. Maltby concluded that celebrity worshippers have lower levels of psychological wellbeing than non-worshippers. Celebrity worship appears to be be a behavioural representation of poor psychological wellbeing, which results from failed attempts to escape from or simply cope with the pressures of everyday life. Another possible question >outline and evaluate research into celebrity worship (4+6) A01 According to the 'absorption-addiction model' most people never go beyond admiring celebrities because of the celebrity’s entertainment or social value. Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  6. 6. However, the motivational forces driving this absorption may eventually become addictive, leading the person to more extreme behaviours to sustain satisfaction with the PSR. McCutcheon's 'absorption-addiction model' identifies three levels to celebrity worship: 1. Entertainment-social: fans are attracted to the celebrity because they are a source of social interaction e.g. Gossip 2. Intense-personal: obsessional tendencies reflecting intense and compulsive feelings for the celebrity 3. Borderline-pathological: uncontrollable behaviour and fantasies about the celebs. The person may actually believe they are in a relationship with the celebrity. A01 Celebrity worship has been associated with less desirable developmental outcomes. Cheung and Yue found that ‘idol worship’ was associated with lower levels of work or study and lower self-esteem and less successful identity achievement. Those teenagers who worshipped idols from TV demonstrated the lowest levels of identity achievement. A02 Therefore, there appears to be limited benefits of ‘celebrity worship’. Cheung and Yue also found that those who worship more tangible models eg key family members or teachers demonstrated higher levels of self-esteem and educational achievement than those who worshipped TV starts. A01 Maltby concluded that celebrity worshippers have lower levels of psychological wellbeing than non-worshippers. Celebrity worship appears to be be a behavioural representation of poor psychological wellbeing, which results from failed attempts to escape from or simply cope with the pressures of everyday life. A02 Most of the research on PSRs has simply involved asking people about their attitudes to celebrities. Critics argue that experimental manipulations may be more effective in determining the causes of identification with a celebrity. Self-report methods tend to suffer from social desirability bias, where pps may lie about their attraction to a celebrity so as to appear more 'normal'. This suggests that the research may be low in validity. Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  7. 7. A02 There are clear implications for the media following the results of research into celebrity worship. It has been found that high profile celebrity suicides are often followed by increased numbers of suicides among the general population. We are drawn to the more anti-social, entertaining celebrities (e.g. Pete Doherty) and thus seek to emulate them. When reporting celebrity suicide., the media should not let the glamour associated with that individual obscure any mental health or drugs problems from which they may have been suffering. Jan 11 >In a study, researchers investigated celebrity worship in young people. They sent two questionnaires to several hundred university students. One questionnaire measured attitudes to celebrity and the other questionnaire measured self-esteem. The researchers analysed the completed questionnaires and found a significant correlation between low self-esteem and high levels of celebrity worship. Explain one methodological and one ethical issue that might have arisen in this study. (2 marks + 2 marks) One problem with using questionnaires is that people often do not send them back. This means that the sample may be biased. One ethical issue is protection from harm. This is a rather sensitive area and the results of the questionnaire could be distressing for the pps and they may need support. Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  8. 8. Celebrity Stalking Jan 12 >Outline and evaluate research into celebrity stalking. (4 marks + 6 marks) A01 Meloy: Two types of stalkers have been identified. About 1 in 5 develops a love obsession with someone with whom they have no personal relationship. Stalkers of this type suffer from delusional thought patterns and many suffer from a mental disorder, such as schizophrenia. Since most are unable for form relationships through conventional means, they retreat to a life of fantasy relationships with people they hardly know, if at all. They may invent fictional stories and attempt to act out these fictional scripts in real life. The second more common simple obsessional stalker is distinguished by some previous personal relationship having existed between the stalker and the victim before the stalking behaviour began. A01 Bartholomew & Horowitz: attachment style 1. Pre-occupied: has been linked to celebrity stalking. Individuals have a negative self-model and a positive other model (poor self-image and positive image of others). Because of this, they actively seek approval and personal validation from others. Meloy claims that celebrity stalking could be considered to be indicative of an abnormal attachment similar to the pre-occupied attachment style. Individuals with this type of attachment may engage in celebrity stalking because the overvalue others and perceive that contact with celebrities will indicate that they are accepted and valued, thus challenging their negative views of self. A02 Tonin provides evidence to support the proposition that celebrity stalking might be explained in terms of abnormal attachment. She measured stalkers retrospective childhood attachment types and their current attachment types using self-report measures. It was found that stalkers had significantly more evidence of insecure adult attachments that the control group. A02 Much research in this area relies on retrospective self-report from a small group of people (case study). Retrospective studies are likely to be inaccurate due to their reliance on the fallible memories of the pps. Self-report methods Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  9. 9. often suffer from social desirability bias where pps may lie to appear more normal to the researcher, this further reducing the validity of the results. The small sample sizes used limits the external validity of the results, and suggests that we may not confidently be able to generalise the results to a wider population. A02 Roberts supported Bartholomew & Horowitz theory of preoccupied attachment being associated with an increased likelihood of approaching celebrities. He suggested that this finding has a number of important implications, including the police being able to draw a psychological profile of an unknown offender. Similarly, clinical interventions may then be designed to help them to overcome their attachment difficulties. Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  10. 10. Intense Fandom Jun 11 >Outline and evaluate findings of research into intense fandom. (4+6) A01 According to the 'absorption-addiction model' most people never go beyond admiring celebrities because of the celebrity’s entertainment or social value. However, the motivational forces driving this absorption may eventually become addictive, leading the person to more extreme behaviours to sustain satisfaction with the PSR. McCutcheon's 'absorption-addiction model' identifies three levels to celebrity worship: 1. Entertainment-social: fans are attracted to the celebrity because they are a source of social interaction e.g. Gossip 2. Intense-personal: obsessional tendencies reflecting intense and compulsive feelings for the celebrity 3. Borderline-pathological: uncontrollable behaviour and fantasies about the celebs. The person may actually believe they are in a relationship with the celebrity. A01 Maltby concluded that celebrity worshippers have lower levels of psychological wellbeing than non-worshippers. Celebrity worship appears to be a behavioural representation of poor psychological wellbeing, which results from failed attempts to escape from or simply cope with the pressures of everyday life. A02 It is commonly believed that PSRs are dysfunctional, but research does not support that assertion. They can provide models of social behaviour (such as intimacy and generosity) and an opportunity to learn cultural values (eg the importance of marriage). Perse and Rubin’s study of PSRs with soap-opera characters found that, due to the fact that people are exposed to the same characters over and over again, one benefit of PSRs is a perceived reduction in uncertainty about social relationships. Although this disputes the argument that PSRs are wholly negative, it does not offer any explanation towards why people may stalk celebrities. A01 Tonin provides evidence to support the proposition that celebrity stalking might be explained in terms of abnormal attachment. She measured stalkers Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  11. 11. retrospective childhood attachment types and their current attachment types using self-report measures. It was found that stalkers had significantly more evidence of insecure adult attachments that the control group. A02 Much research in this area relies on retrospective self-report from a small group of people (case study). Retrospective studies are likely to be inaccurate due to their reliance on the fallible memories of the pps. Self-report methods often suffer from social desirability bias where pps may lie to appear more normal to the researcher, this further reducing the validity of the results. The small sample sizes used limits the external validity of the results, and suggests that we may not confidently be able to generalise the results to a wider population. Jun 13 >As part of his research into intense fandom, a psychologist examined comments posted on a fan website for a famous ‘boyband’. He found that most fans discussed concerts, favourite songs and band souvenirs. However, a small number were more intensely involved with the band. These fans spent their weekends following the band around the country when they were on tour, in the hope of catching a glimpse of their favourite celebrities. They visited the fan website several times a day to discuss the latest tweets posted by the band members on Twitter. How would psychological research into intense fandom explain the different kinds of relationships with celebrities in the above scenario? (10 marks) The absorption addiction model (McCutcheon 2002) argues that people pursue parasocial relationships with celebrities when their own lives are deficient in some way. According to the 'absorption-addiction model' most people never go beyond admiring celebrities because of the celebrities entertainment or social value. However, the motivational forces driving this absorption may eventually become addictive, leading the person to more extreme behaviours to sustain satisfaction with the PSR. There are three levels to this process: 1. Entertainment-social: fans are attracted to the celebrity because they are a source of social interaction e.g. Gossip 2. Intense-personal: obsessional tendencies reflecting intense and compulsive feelings for the celebrity 3. Borderline-pathological: uncontrollable behaviour and fantasies about the celebs. The person may actually believe they are in a relationship with the celebrity. Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity
  12. 12. The majority of the fans are showing E-S as they discuss concerts and band souvenirs. However, the fans who spend weekends following the band around the country on tour appear to be further down the scale, perhaps even B-P as they are hoping to catch a glimpse of the celebrities. Those with poorer psychological adjustment, or weaker senses of identity or those who have experienced personal crises are seen as more prone to engage in intense fandom (Maltby 2001). Maltby et al (2002) compared pps scores on different religiosity measured against scores on the CAS. They found that as religiosity increased, the tendency to worship celebrities decreased. This suggests that we have a need to worship someone, and if these fans do not have a traditional religious figure (e.g. God) they have resorted to a celebrity to fulfil this need. Attachment theory (Meloy, 2001) argues that intense parasocial relationships originate in insecure childhood attachments. The celebrities are seen as attractive, as there are few demands and little risk of rejection in this relationship (Ashe & McCutcheon, 2001). Jenkins (1992) takes a more positive view of fandom arguing that it serves important social functions. This model can explain the mild fandom, but does not attempt to explain extreme levels of fandom identified in the scenario, although they too are still discussing the tweets posted by the band members on Twitter. The fact it was only a small number who intensely followed the band can be supported by Maltby research which used a celebrity attractive scale on participants. It was found 15% were entertainment social, 5% were intense personal and 2% borderline psychotic. This suggests and supports how most fans were less obsessive due to the band’s entertainment social value whereas a small percentage was much more intense. Laura Gratton PSYA4 Media Celebrity

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