Social Influence of a Religious Hero: The Late Cardinal Stephen Kim Sou-Hwan's Effect on Cornea Donation and Volunteerism
Brown, William J
Journal of health communication 2011 Jan; 16(1): 62-78
This study examined the mediated influence of a celebrated religious hero in South Korea, Cardinal Stephen Kim, through two forms of involvement--parasocial interaction and identification--on intention toward cornea donation and volunteerism, and it investigated how the news media diffused of his death. A structural equation modeling analysis with a Web-based voluntary survey of more than 1,200 people in South Korea revealed a multistep social influence process, beginning with parasocial interaction with Cardinal Kim, leading to identification with him, which predicted intention toward cornea donation and volunteerism. Additional investigations found that news of Cardinal Kim's death diffused rapidly through media and interpersonal communication. Results of this study demonstrate that religious leaders who achieve a celebrity hero status can prompt public discussion of important issues rather quickly through extensive media coverage, enabling them to promote prosocial behavior and positively affect public health.
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