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The study examines the implications of fundamental attribution error, wherein viewers misattribute qualities of the fictional characters onto the actors who portray them. In an experiment, individuals watched an actor playing a role of either a hero or a villain. Then, participants watched the same actor in a public service announcement. In line with the attribution theory, viewers rated the actor’s personality less positively, reported a weaker parasocial relationship with the actor, and listed more negative thoughts about the advertisement after exposure to the actor playing a villain.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Communication Reports, volume 33, issue 1, in 2020, available online at It may differ slightly from the final version of record.


Taylor & Francis

Available for download on Thursday, May 13, 2021