Belonging Regulation through the Use of (Para)social Surrogates

Megan L. Knowles

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Exclusion

Published in print February 2013 | ISBN: 9780195398700
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Belonging Regulation through the Use of (Para)social Surrogates

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  • Psychology
  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology



If belonging is a fundamental human need, then social exclusion should motivate reconnection or another means of fulfilling one’s belonging needs. Consistent with this premise, research reveals that individuals utilize myriad means of regaining a sense of belonging after social threat (Belonging Regulation Model; Gardner, Pickett, & Knowles, 2005 ). This chapter briefly surveys the nature of and evidence for these belonging maintenance strategies and details one of the strategies most far removed from the real world—the use of parasocial attachment figures as social surrogates. Research within and beyond psychology reveals that many individuals form parasocial, or one-sided, attachments to media figures such as television characters. Much like real relationships, these parasocial attachments can be drawn upon in order to maintain a subjective sense of connection. Indeed, exposure to parasocial attachment figures mitigates the negative consequences of exclusion. Last, this chapter raises questions about the boundary conditions of these phenomena.

Keywords: belonging needs; belonging regulation; parasocial attachments; social exclusion; social monitoring; social motivation; social surrogacy; television

Article.  6852 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Social Psychology ; Clinical Psychology

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