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J Homosex. 2006;51(4):15-37.

Can one TV show make a difference? Will & Grace and the Parasocial Contact Hypothesis.

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Communication Studies Department, Ford Hall 225, University of Minnesota, 224 Church St, S.E. Minneapolis, MN 55455-0427, USA.


Television has an opportunity to influence beliefs about groups with which individuals typically may have little direct social contact. This study describes a synthesis of the Contact Hypothesis and the concept of Parasocial Interaction to pose what we call the Parasocial Contact Hypothesis to test whether exposure to gay men on Will & Grace can influence attitudes toward gay men in general. Based on a study of 245 university students, this study examines the relationships among number and intimacy of gay social contacts, parasocial interaction, viewing frequency of Will & Grace, and scores on Herek's Attitudes Toward Gay Men and Lesbians scale. Increased viewing frequency and parasocial interaction were found to correlate with lower levels of sexual prejudice-a relationship that was most pronounced for those with the least amount of social contact with lesbians and gay men.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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