May 13, 2019

Why we mourn the deaths of our favorite ‘Game of Thrones’ characters

sparks-g12 Glenn Sparks. Download image

WHAT: Fans of “Game of Thrones” are coping with the deaths of several prominent characters killed in the “Battle of King’s Landing” during the show’s second-to-last episode.

EXPERT: Glenn Sparks, a professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University and an expert in media effects research, can discuss why fans mourn the deaths of their favorite TV and movie characters. For decades, Sparks has studied the mental and emotional effects on viewers, including children, of media violence and frightening films.

QUOTE: “Viewers become invested in what happens to the characters they’ve learned to love. When favorite characters die, the emotional consequences of the death may feel very much like the grief people feel when real-life friends die. Media scholars refer to this phenomenon as a para-social relationship — the experience of forming bonds with fictional characters that provide the same sorts of feelings that we experience with our real social relationships with close friends or family.”

MORE INFORMATION: Sparks also studies the effects of electronic media and paranormal depictions in media. He is author of “Media Effects Research: A Basic Overview” and “A First Look at Communication Theory,” and co-author of “Refrigerator Rights: Our Crucial Need for Close Connection.” More information about Sparks is available here.

Writer: Joseph Paul, 765-494-9541, paul102@purdue.edu

Source: Glenn Sparks, 765-464-9536, gsparks@purdue.edu

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