Extending and withholding forgiveness to Josh Hamilton: Exploring forgiveness within parasocial interaction

James Sanderson, Betsy Emmons

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Forgiveness plays a prominent role in social interaction yet has received scant attention in the parasocial realm. This research addresses this gap by investigating people extending or declining forgiveness to Major League Baseball player Josh Hamilton after an alcohol relapse. A thematic analysis of 474 postings in a discussion forum on the Texas Rangers official website was conducted. Analysis revealed that fans forgave Hamilton through (a) support; (b) ‘‘addiction is hard’’ narratives; (c) human condition attributions; and (d) justification and that forgiveness was withheld due to perceptions of Hamilton’s character flaws. The results suggest that when athletes transgress and accept responsibility, it facilitates increased similarity with fans who then engage in supportive communication, including forgiveness. Nevertheless, transgressions also may preclude forgiveness as some fans are unwilling to chance recidivism. The study concludes with implications and directions for future re
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-47
JournalDefault journal
StatePublished - 2014

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