Assessing the Predictive Value of Parasocial Relationship Intensity in a Political Context

Jonathan Cohen, R. Lance Holbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study explores the ability of parasocial relationships to predict support for political candidates and elected officials. A May 2017 survey of U.S. adults (N = 2,055) included items that reflect traditional approaches to the study of candidate support (e.g., political party identification, policy agreement) along with several batteries of a newly developed political parasocial relationship (PPSR) measure. This study gives primary attention to predicting support for U.S. President Donald J. Trump, but also focuses on Secretary Hillary Clinton and U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. Parasocial relations prove to be a powerful predictor of Trump-Support, outperforming all other predictors (including past voting behavior). This study also explores what predicts citizen-politician PPSR. Citizens’ parasocial relationships with Trump are predicted by general political knowledge (–), 2016 Trump voting (+), support for Trump’s policies (+), along with news media exposure (+), and social media following of Trump (+).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)501-526
Number of pages26
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Trump
  • candidate support
  • identity
  • media
  • parasocial

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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