Master of Arts (MA)
Primary Subject Area
Mass Communications; Sociology, Demography; Sociology, General
Identification Theory, Parasocial Theory, Twixters, Friends, Influence
Twixter is a term, popularized by Time magazine, to define what sociologists classify as individuals in their mid to late twenties who are finding themselves "betwixt and between" adolescence and adulthood (Grossman, 2005). Researchers Cote and Allahar (1996), Bennett (1994), and Buchmann (1989) have identified mass media as a key contributor to this new transitional life stage, specifically discussing the influential potential of television. As individuals identify with various televised content, fictional characters establish role models that individuals then emulate. The series Friends, in particular, portrayed this Twixter life stage. This thesis addresses Kelman's (1961) theory of identification as it relates to the series Friends by interviewing 14 women who demographically fit within the Twixter life stage. Four prominent themes emerged: Initial identification, character identification, episode identification and life stage identification. It was found that the initial draw to the series was a strong identification with the characters as quasi-mentors, the characters relationships or the socialization of the series among their peers. It was this initial interpersonal attraction that precipitated avid viewership and built a parasocial relationship which interviewing evidenced each woman's strong identification with the characters, events within various episodes and particularly the life stage of the characters. As Friends reflected the Twixter life stage, the majority of the women disclosed that they perceived their life stage as similar to the life stage of the characters on Friends, strongly supporting the premise that identification is the key to influence.