Respondents also describe the show as a means of viewing another way of living, in this case an idyllic version of their demographic. Therefore, they are considering their own Greek experience to be this ideal with a few differences, which can easily be explained. The respondents suggest that Greek is an example of what could or should be in reality if the viewers were presented with the same circumstances. Similarly, the perceived realness of the characters and situations make their experiences attainable or possible for viewers.
Respondents also seem to gain from viewing the show in that they showed trends in cognitive interaction with the characters and their actions. The respondents share how they felt like they learned from watching the show and how their confidence increased after watching events represented in the show. The respondents who received an increase in confidence displayed feeling of contentment with their own situations or conflicts knowing, now, that they what they are experiencing and going through in reality is not unusual and that it is also experienced by others.
While the character Casey appears as the most identifiable with the public in the whole show, she was not the most liked by respondents. This may show that respondents do not necessarily identify or symbolically boast with characters simply because they are the most popular on the show. When respondents claimed several characters in identification, it shows that they are taking all the best attributes in the show and combining them to identify with themselves. Respondents who combine the characters only took the prominent or best characteristics of each and projected those on themselves.
Respondents who discussed their negative feelings toward a character on the show related examples from their own lives, comparing the disliked character to a member of their own lives who exemplify these characteristics. The comparison of the show to real life may show how viewers bring the examples from the show to their own lives, and compare the relationship structures on the show with that of their own. The content of the show seems to be a major element for identification.
This may be in part because respondents can relate to and empathize with the circumstances that the character is currently in or has been in in the past. This level of identification seems easy considering the commonality of the characters and viewers in that they are both college undergraduate students. The level of reality of representations on the show is directly related to the level of identification with the viewer. This study has shown that symbolic boasting in individuals compares reality and what is happening in the show.
It is evident in the interviews that the more a viewer sees the representations in the show as real or possible, the stronger the identification. If a viewer recognizes in his or her interview that the show is just a show, he or she is less connected to the characters. The more the reality is recognized, the more the symbolic boasting is evident based on the show. The changes of loyalties and friendships occur from the beginning to the end of the show, as it happens in a college, university or an office in a particular course of time.
Respondents recognize specific characters that they identified with in a different manner than when they are discussing the show as a whole. In the analysis, subcategories are created in order to better understand the motivations for identification. Significant in all subcategories was the fact that the viewers qualify negative attributes and display an attempt to be a better version of the character. This is important in symbolic boasting because it displays how the viewers see an undesirable representation or characteristic, and they understand the characters’ mistakes and avoid them in real life.
By doing this, the respondents can symbolically boast with the character and obtain a higher level of satisfaction in their own lives. Further, in this study, the characters’ personality types are asserted the most as reasons for identification. Respondents in this category notice the predominant characteristics of a character and matched those qualities with themselves, most often the unconcerned, careless nature of Cappie. This carefree attitude appears to be revered by respondents and shows how the respondents desire to be similar. The idea of spontaneity and a relaxed personality is evident in this category.
Respondents who claim a personality type as a reason for identification also sometimes mocked themselves for possessing that quality. These characteristics usually coincide with comedic instances on the show, such as an extreme naivety, or a clumsy, goof-ball attitude. This self-deprecation is more evident in women than it was in men. Males who note an undesirable attribute were celebratory in that they claimed they are no longer similar to that. The second, most often noted subcategory is the similarity in position of authority or leadership in the respondents’ organization.
This identification is based only on the similar experiences focused on the particular character’s position of authority. This shows that identification on this level allows the viewers to not identify with the character as a person but only the position the characters are in. Here, they identify with a character on the show simply because they work in the same type of office environment, or are a leader in their own lives. Identification on this level reveals a lot about the respondents and their ideas about leadership and authority.
Women who identify with a character in this category described their similar struggles and overcoming these problems in their office or lives. They were more celebratory in their achievement. Men, on the other hand, tend to identify more with similar ideas and the power that the characters have in relation to their position. These college male respondents who are members of certain fraternity groups tend to be more explicit in describing how their fraternity members look up to them, and rarely identify any struggles with the position of leadership.
This, combined with their descriptions of personal growth from being naive freshmen to becoming leaders today, may suggest that men are more proud when they symbolically boast. They are only identifying the successes in their lives, and not the struggles or path to get there. Again, selectively, respondents tend to reject the poor decisions made by the character of identification, and instead focus only on the positive outcomes that the characters show.