This study examines how exposure to female superheroes’ body images increases the strength of parasocial relationships, perceived homophily, and level of self-esteem that female college students experience. Three images of female superheroes were manipulated into round, muscular, and hyper-thin body types. Eighty-one students at a west coast university were randomly assigned to view one of three images of the female superhero. After viewing the images, the participants were asked to answer three Likert scales to determine the strength of parasocial relationships to the superheroine (bonds with the character), perceived homophily (perceived similarity), and self-esteem. The results of the study indicate that a female superhero with a muscular body type is the most prominent in the strength of parasocial relationships and increase in self-esteem of female college students compared to round and hyper-thin body types, whereas none of the body types had a significant effect on perceived homophily.
Cleveland, Ashe C.; Farzinpour, Michael John; and Vega, Alyssa Aroz, "Effect of Female Superhero Body Types on Parasocial Relationships, Perceived Homophily and Self-Esteem of College Women" (2017). Student Research Day Abstracts and Posters. 250.