Abstract/Details

The theory of "identity dissonance": Mass communication, romance fiction, and the self-concept

Benjamin, Sarah. 
 York University (Canada) ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  1999. MQ43370.

Abstract (summary)

Why are there so many paradoxical representations of women in North American media? It is the assumption of this paper that the antithetical character of mass media is both a reflection and result of the multifaceted nature of our Self-concept and the fundamental process of identity development. Expanding Festinger's (1957) theory of cognitive dissonance to encompass identity, I created the theory of identity dissonance specifically in order to explore identity development and its relationship to characteristics inherent in mass communication. Identity dissonance is an unsettling feeling of psychological disquiet, occurring when there is roughly equal commitment to two or more conflicting identities; to be dissonant, these identities must contain information and values that an individual considers contradictory. Dissonance theory is a theory of relevant relationship: it is a person's psychological makeup—his or her sense of Self—that dictates how relationships between identities are to be organized (for example, as conflictual, consonant, or irrelevant). Identity dissonance occurs when an individual regards particular identities as essential components of his or her Self-concept yet also recognizes, consciously or unconsciously, that these identities oppose each other. Agreeing with perspectives put forth by Radway (1991) and Jensen (1984), this paper argues for an important relationship between women's psychosocial realities and romance novels. I specifically propose that the gendered characterizations of heroes and heroines in Harlequin romance novels, along with plotlines dedicated to the management or resolution of identity dissonance in the heroine's life, strongly indicate that romance novels provide an excellent environment in which to explore the presence of the psychological phenomenon of identity dissonance. It is postulated that romance readers are drawn to this reading experience because romance novels are able to depict, in the narrative lives of heroes and heroines, situations and emotional realities, analogous to their own personal experiences with identity dissonance.

Indexing (details)


Literature indexing term
Subject
Mass media;
Womens studies;
Personality;
Literature;
Mass communications;
Personality psychology;
Modern literature
People
Davies, Robertson (1913-1995)
Classification
0708: Mass communications
0453: Womens studies
0625: Personality psychology
0298: Modern literature
0401: Literature
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Psychology; Language, literature and linguistics; COMMUNICATION; CONCEPT; DISSONANCE; FICTION; IDENTITY; MASS; ROMANCE; SELF; THEORY
Title
The theory of "identity dissonance": Mass communication, romance fiction, and the self-concept
Author
Benjamin, Sarah
Number of pages
153
Degree date
1999
School code
0267
Source
MAI 38/03M, Masters Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
978-0-612-43370-0
Advisor
Fletcher, Frederick; Chataway, Cynthia; Ripley, Louise
University/institution
York University (Canada)
University location
Canada
Degree
M.A.
Source type
Dissertation or Thesis
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
MQ43370
ProQuest document ID
304544492
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
https://www.proquest.com/docview/304544492/abstract