University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
Place of Publication
As social media usage continues to rise, the prevalence of non-traditionally famous online entertainers and other popular online personas (e.g., YouTubers and social media influencers) is increasing. Online practices such as video blogging and social media upkeep make it easier for viewers and fans to feel closer to the online personas they follow, regardless of whether any in-person social interaction ever takes place. Due to the increased amount of time adolescents and young adults spend on social media, it is clear that these online personas are becoming an important part of adolescents’ and young adults’ socialization. Furthermore, when online entertainers become the subject of controversy in the media, their fans and followers are quick to become involved. The present study examined if empathy and perceived similarity relate to empathic behaviors online. The study featured three real online influencers, one of whom was white, one Asian, and one Black. In a sample of 115 participants, I found that empathy significantly, negatively correlated with aggression for the two non-white influencers featured in our study. For the one white influencer, the more similar viewers felt toward her, the less aggression they felt toward her behaviors. Controlling for ethnicity of participants, participants indicated significantly higher levels of perceived similarity toward the white influencer, followed by the Asian influencer, and the Black influencer.
B. S.; An honors thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Bachelor of Science.
Aggressiveness--Social aspects; Empathy--Psychological aspects
Petersen, Olivette, "Empathy, perceived similarity, and online aggression" (2020). Honors Theses.