In the second half of the twentieth century social critics observed
that western societies were undergoing a seemingly unhealthy and
pervasive trend: Real heroes were being replaced by celebrities--persons
whose achievements amounted to little more than being able to sing,
dance, and appear more photogenic than most (Boorstin, 1961; Fishwick,
1969). This trend continues, promoted first by radio and moving
pictures, then by television and more modern technology. More recently,
critics have decried a deliberate attempt on the part of television
executives to create an entire society of celebrity worshipers, people
who would follow the potentially harmful, uninformed advice sometimes
offered by these dubious heroes, especially if it increased the sale of
sponsored products (Bogart, 1980; Schickel, 1985).
The development and publication of the Celebrity Worship Scale
(CWS) triggered a modest amount of research aimed at determining the
attitudes, traits and behaviors of those who "worshiped" at
least one celebrity (McCutcheon, Lange, & Houran, 2002). A factor
analysis revealed three factors consisting of 23 items. This revision of
the CWS became known as the Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS; Maltby,
Houran, Lange, Ashe, & McCutcheon, 2002; Maltby, McCutcheon, Ashe,
& Houran, 2001).
The first factor or subscale was labeled "Entertainment-social
(ES)," because its ten items implied that some persons are
attracted to celebrities because they have entertainment value and they
provide opportunities for conversation. Factor or subscale two was named
the "Intense-personal (IP)" subscale because its nine items
reflect a deeper, more intense involvement with one's favorite
celebrity. Factor or subscale three, "Borderline-pathological,
(Path)" consists of four items that, if agreed with, imply a
problematic, parasocial relationship.
Subsequent research has shown that the first factor, ES, is
relatively benign, but those who score high on subscales two and three
(IP and Path) are likely to exhibit attitudes and behaviors that are
problematic. For example, Maltby, Giles, Barber and McCutcheon (2005)
found that female adolescents who scored high on CAS IP (but not ES)
tended to have a poor body image. Maltby, Day, McCutcheon, Houran and
Ashe (2005) found that celebrity worship for Intense-personal reasons
was correlated with fantasy proneness, and celebrity worship for
Borderline-pathological reasons was linked to both fantasy proneness and
Maltby, Houran and McCutcheon (2003) found positive relationships
between celebrity worship for Entertainment-social reasons and
extraversion, one of the three dimensions of Eysenck's personality
model (Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975). However, IP scores correlated
positively with Eysenck's neuroticism traits, and Path scores
correlated with Eysenckian psychoticism traits (Maltby, et al.). A study
of coping with stress, general health and life satisfaction led to the
conclusion that poor mental health was associated with high scores on
CAS IP (Maltby, Day, McCutcheon, Gillett, Houran, & Ashe, 2004). In
addition to finding that high CAS IP scores and high CAS Path scores
predicted both depressive symptoms and higher anxiety, Maltby,
McCutcheon, Ashe, and Houran (2001) also found an association between
CAS ES and depressive symptoms.
The five-factor trait approach to the study of personality
represents a modern synthesis of some of the most important traits
commonly used to describe human beings (Costa & McCrae, 1992). The
five-factor model and the scales based on it are "well-established
and widely used" (Batey, Chamorro-Premuzic, & Furnham, 2009, p.
The Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R; Costa &
McCrae, 1992) measures the five-factor model of personality through five
main domains (italicized), each subdivided into six facets or subscales
(in brackets): (1) Neuroticism (Anxiety, Angry Hostility, Depression,
Self-Consciousness, Impulsiveness and Vulnerability), (2) Extraversion
(Warmth, Gregariousness, Assertiveness, Activity, Excitement Seeking,
and Positive Emotions), (3) Openness (Fantasy, Aesthetics, Feelings,
Actions, Ideas and Values), (4) Agreeableness (Trust,
Straightforwardness, Altruism, Compliance, Modesty and
Tender-Mindedness), and (5) Conscientiousness (Competence, Order,
Dutifulness, Achievement Striving, Self-discipline and Deliberation).
The NEO PI-R has enjoyed such widespread usage over the last two decades
(e.g., Batey, et al., 2009; Chappelle, Novy, Sowin & Thompson, 2010)
that we deemed it important to see what sort of "fit" we might
find between it and the CAS.
Previous research has found relationships between CAS factor of
Intense-personal (IP) with neuroticism (Maltby, et al., 2001; 2003;
2004) and fantasy proneness (Maltby et al., 2005); the CAS factor of
Entertainment-social (ES) with extraversion (Maltby et al., 2003). We
hypothesize that the same CAS factors would correlate with corresponding
constructs of the NEO PI-R: CAS IP with NEO PI-R Neuroticism and
Openness-Fantasy; CAS ES with NEO PI-R Extraversion.
The participants were 329 respondents (165 males, 164 females)
between the ages of 18 and 62 years (Mean yrs. =33.67, SD=8.00) from a
number of workplaces and community groups in Northern England and the
Midlands. Among this sample the most often reported demographic was
White (67%, n=220), married (45%, n=148), employed (45%, n=149), and
leaving school with the equivalent of an education of at least
'0' level/GCSE (32%, n=105), which approximates a high school
education in the United States. No one refused to participate, but data
were discarded from 18% (n =73) of the original 402 persons because they
failed to complete the CAS and/or the NEO PI-R.
The Celebrity Attitude Scale (CAS: McCutcheon et al., 2002). This
was originally a 34-item Likert-type scale called the Celebrity Worship
Scale (since renamed) with "strongly agree" equal to 5 and
"strongly disagree" equal to 1. Based on an analysis reported
in Maltby, Houran, Lange, Ashe, & McCutcheon, (2002), among UK
samples, three "subscales" were formed from 22 of the 23
items. Entertainment-social contained 10 items (e.g. 'My friends
and I like to discuss what my favourite celebrity has done', item
5); Intense-personal contained nine items (e.g. 'I share with my
favourite celebrity a special bond that cannot be described in
words,' item 2); Borderline-pathological contained three items
(e.g. 'If I were lucky enough to meet my favourite celebrity, and
he/she asked me to do something illegal as a favour, I would probably do
it,' item 22). Both the 22-item and the 23-item versions have been
found to be reliable and valid measures (McCutcheon, Maltby, Houran,
& Ashe, 2004).
The Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO PI-R). This measures the
five-factor model of personality through five main scales described
above: Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and
Conscientiousness. It is widely accepted for its good to excellent
psychometric qualities (Costa & McCrae, 1992).
All participants filled out both measures in their workplaces or
community groups. Participants were given as much time as needed to
complete the measures, and no incentives were offered for participating.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Table 1 shows means and standard deviations of all the scales by
gender; it also provides Cronbach alpha coefficients for each scale.
T-tests showing gender differences in scale scores are also given in
Table 1. No significant differences were found for gender on any of the
scales, and all the scales demonstrated satisfactory reliability. Alpha
coefficients and means for the CAS were comparable to those obtained in
several previous studies (McCutcheon, et al., 2004).
Table 2 shows the Pearson product moment correlation coefficients
computed between the three dimensions of celebrity worship (CAS) and the
five-factor model of personality (NEO PI-R), including significant
facets/subscales for each personality domain. Because of the large
number of correlations computed, p values of .01 and .001 were used to
indicate the significance of correlations.
First, consistent with our hypothesis and previous findings, CAS
Entertainment-social scores were related to Extraversion among both
males and females. Examination of the correlations with the
facets/subscales of Extraversion suggests that excitement seeking is the
only facet significantly linked to Entertainment-social scores among
males and females. Second, also as predicted, scores on CAS
Intensepersonal were strongly related to Neuroticism scores among both
males and females; Furthermore, celebrity worship for intense personal
reasons was related to all six facets of neuroticism. Our third
hypothesis, that fantasy facet scores would be related to CAS
Intense-personal scores, failed to reach significance, although
"ideas," another of the Openness facets, did among males only.
Celebrity worship for pathological reasons was not related to any of the
five factors of personality.
The present study adds additional evidence to the growing body of
work which suggests that a casual attachment to celebrities serves an
entertainment function (Maltby, et al., 2004; McCutcheon, et al., 2002)
especially for those who crave excitement. The relatively large
correlations between the CAS Intense-personal scores with NEO PI-R
Neuroticism and its facets which are consistent with the results of
other studies (e.g. Maltby et al., 2001; 2003; 2004) suggest a darker
side of celebrity worship, especially for those who experience a deeper,
more intensely personal attachment to a celebrity. While it is not clear
whether a cluster of neurotic traits predisposes one to become
increasingly absorbed with celebrities or vice-versa, results of the
present study provide ample reason for concern.
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University of Leicester
Lynn E. McCutcheon
Robert Jay Lowinger
State University of New York College at Old Westbury
Author info: Correspondence should be sent to: Dr. John Maltby,
School of Psychology, University of Leicester, 106 New Walk, Leicester,
England LE1 7EA e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
TABLE 1 Mean Scores (standard deviations) of all Scales by Gender,
Including Alpha Coefficients
Scale Males (n=165) Females
[alpha] Mean (SD) Mean (SD)
CAS Entertainment- social .87 21.53 (04.3) 21.15 (02.8)
CAS Intense- personal .88 19.94 (03.0) 20.57 (04.1)
CAS Pathological .77 6.05 (00.4) 6.01 (00.1)
Neuroticism .92 81.52 (19.4) 79.14 (19.4)
Extraversion .91 110.84 (22.8) 108.43 (22.9)
Openness .93 106.39 (24.6) 103.49 (24.1)
Agreeableness .90 123.79 (23.5) 122.39 (22.6)
Conscientiousness .93 109.21 (24.0) 112.52 (21.8)
CAS Entertainment- social .929
CAS Intense- personal -1.431
CAS Pathological 1.258
TABLE 2 Correlations between Celebrity Worship and Five-factor
Males (n = 165)
Scales CAS CAS CAS
ES IP Path
Neuroticism .187 .392 ** -.041
Anxiety .193 .286 ** -.059
Angry Hostility .093 .305 ** -.027
Depression .142 .330 ** -.087
Self-Consciousness .174 .246 * -.023
Impulsiveness .116 .292 ** .073
Vulnerability .083 .276 ** -.068
Extraversion .227 * .041 -.028
Excitement Seeking .250 * .132 -.037
Openness .124 .185 .083
Ideas .154 .206 * .120
Agreeableness .017 -.030 .035
Conscientiousness .097 .094 .080
Females (n = 164)
Scales CAS CAS CAS
ES IP Path
Neuroticism .000 .417 ** -.018
Anxiety -.041 .278 ** .000
Angry Hostility -.069 .402 ** .027
Depression .028 .285 ** -.102
Self-Consciousness .012 .307 ** -.109
Impulsiveness .091 .318 ** .008
Vulnerability -.023 .203 * .005
Extraversion .211 * -.021 -.060
Excitement Seeking .278 ** -.056 -.107
Openness -.109 .048 .019
Ideas .047 .047 -.038
Agreeableness .044 .127 .072
Conscientiousness -.096 .150 -.100
Note: Only the 5 factors and those facets that show significant
correlations are shown here. A complete version of this table is
available from the authors. * p<.01 ; ** p<.001