The relationship between loneliness and viewing daytime serial dramas in adolescent females

Phyllis Workman Zahnd, Fordham University


This study examined the relationship between attributions for loneliness and the use or nonuse of functional alternatives. Stable attributions result in chronic loneliness which is accompanied by feelings of hopelessness and passivity whereas unstable attributions result in situational loneliness which produces active coping. Situationally lonely individuals were not expected to differ from nonlonely individuals. People who are unable to satisfy their need for interpersonal contact directly are expected to become dependent upon functional alternatives. Situationally lonely and nonlonely people are expected to be minimally dependent upon functional alternatives, while chronically lonely people are expected to rely upon functional alternatives. Surrogate relationships operationalize the general construct of functional alternative and refer to any nonreciprocal relationship. Surrogate relationships that are established through television viewing are called parasocial relationships. Specifically, this study asked: Will chronically lonely individuals establish stronger parasocial relationships, and view with greater frequency and commitment when watching daytime serial drama than situationally lonely and nonlonely individuals? Subjects were 159 adolescent females from two suburban high schools. Sixty eight participants comprised the chronically lonely group, 75 participants comprised the nonlonely group, and 16 participants comprised the situationally lonely group. This sample was culled from a group of 288 participants based upon responses to questionnaires. Subjects completed reasearcher-devised questionnaires to ascertain the frequency of viewing, commitment to viewing, social viewing, as well as the formation of parasocial relationships established through viewing daytime serial drama. Results of statistical analyses indicated that viewing daytime serial drama plays an important role in the lives of adolescent females that is independent of loneliness. Most respondents watched daytime serial drama and had been following these stories for several years. Most respondents experienced commitment to viewing and established parasocial relationships though their viewing. Methodological and theoretical considerations were presented to explain the retention of the null hypotheses. A chi-square analysis revealed that ethnicity appeared related to loneliness. Black and Hispanic respondents were more likely to be chronically lonely and less likely to be nonlonely than Caucasian respondents. Suggestions were presented that would facilitate school professionals and parents working together to increase the positive impact that television viewing can have for youth.

Subject Area

Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Workman Zahnd, Phyllis, "The relationship between loneliness and viewing daytime serial dramas in adolescent females" (1988). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8813589.