Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Parasocial; Mass Communication; Mass Effects; Preschool

Major Advisor

Kirstie Farrar, PhD

Associate Advisor

Mark Hamilton, PhD

Associate Advisor

Melissa Tafoya, PhD

Field of Study

Communication Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Parasocial relationships are one-sided relationships that consumers have with media characters (Horton & Wohl, 1956). This dissertation answers recent calls for more research into the role these relationships play in children’s lives. More specifically, this research explores the impact parasocial relationships have on preschool students’ interpersonal relationships – to see if these unique media bonds change whom children choose to have relationships with in school. Because of their tendency to overwhelmingly choose same sex children as friends, preschool age children were the participants. Results of this study found that girls are more likely than boys to select opposite-sex media characters as their favorite and that this selection impacts their friend choices in school. Specifically, girls with male parasocial partners are more likely to play with boys and have male best friends in school. Previously, Maccoby (1998) argued that the same-sex relationships one has in preschool create disparate cultures between the sexes and that this divide continues to influence adult life. Combining the present results with those of Maccoby, it is now clear that the media’s increasing importance in the lives of toddlers and young children can have long lasting repercussions on future relationships, in particular, future opposite-sex interactions.