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SWPA States

Are Fans Created Equal? Examining the Function and Purpose of Fandom
    Daniel P Chadborn     Southeastern Louisiana University
    William Gregory Schmidt     Southeastern Louisiana University
    Megan Nichole Simon     Southeastern Louisiana University


Problem:
While many fields have begun to look into fan behaviors, most of this data is collected from sports fans. There has been a substantial lack of information concerning fans in a variety of other contexts, like television, movies, comics, gaming etc. With this substantial lack of research comes a plethora of myths and misunderstandings concerning fans and the functions that their membership with a fandom plays in their developing lives and their social identities. This study proposed to examine the functions and reasons individuals join fandom, the potential benefits individuals get from being fans, and how those benefits shape identity. And to hypothesize that regardless of oneís area of interest (football, Star Trek, comics, video games) that fandom shares a common function or purpose in individualís lives.

Method:
The study collected participants (n = 1949) asked to volunteer from an online post on tumblr.com, through introductory psychology courses compensated through course credit, and through an appeal to pass on the study link to family and friends who may also be involved in any fandom or fan related activities. All participants received informed consent and were treated in accordance with APA guidelines. They were given a series of demographics questions, measures on fandom involvement and fandom/fanship classification, the Fan Functions Scale (FFS), the Big Five Inventory (BFI), the Creative Exploration Inventory (CEI), the Social Community Scale (SCS), and a modified version of the SCS to examine views concerning fandom.

Results:
This study utilized a Varimax Factor Analysis Data Reduction to determine potential factors within the group as a whole and amongst several larger individual fandom groupings (Comics n = 73, Sherlock n = 93, Dr. Who n = 92, Football n = 226, Harry Potter n = 89, Anime n = 85, Music n = 287, Gaming n = 93).

Discussion:
Results support a single factor for fandom involvement as a whole that encompasses nearly the entire Fandom Functions Scale. However, when viewed separately several core factors appear to be present within the larger individually reviewed fandoms. These results support a core set of factors for the functions of fandom in inidivualís lives around 3 main factors or functions of fandom (1) Offering a sense of guidance, inspiration, purpose, or sense of uniqueness, (2) Offering a way to share a liked interest with friends or family, and (3) Offering an escape or stress relief . And regardless of where a fanís interest lies, the purposes and functions the fandom and interest serve are the same.





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