Social media influencers talk about politics: Investigating the role of source factors and PSR in Gen-Z followers’ perceived information quality, receptivity and sharing intention

Zicheng Cheng, Jin Chen, Rachel X. Peng, Heather Shoenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Afforded by the unprecedented interactivity of social media, social media influencers (SMI) can build strong and trusting relationships with their followers. Such connections carry great potential and may be a powerful asset for political campaigns. Drawing on the existing literature on parasocial relationships (PSR) and political persuasion, we examined the effect of source factors and PSR on followers’ perceived message quality, receptivity, and sharing intention in a political advocacy context. An online survey of 390 U.S. university students showed that, in general, SMIs who engage in sharing political messages would influence a young audience’s opinion formation. Our findings offered a unique and significant perspective: source characteristics of expertise, similarity, trustworthiness, attractiveness, and interactivity will foster parasocial relationships, which leads to a higher level of perceived information quality, and then further predicts higher receptivity toward the SMI’s political advocacy and elicits the followers’ sharing intention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-131
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Information Technology and Politics
Volume21
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Computer Science
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration

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