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Exploring the Boundaries of Heroes, Celebrities and Role Models after 9/11: Lessons from Shanksville
Unformatted Document Text:  Lessons from Shanksville p. 7 McGuire’s (2001) hierarchy of effects model, and Petty and Cacioppo’s (1986) elaboration likelihood model. All these approaches focus on cognitive processes that lead to attitude and behavior change. However, the theories or models mentioned above overemphasize the power of cognition and underestimate the power of emotion in promoting long-term behavior change. They fall short in capturing the passionate feelings some individuals have for celebrities and heroes, producing in some cases enduring changes in peoples’ lives. People continue to be affected by celebrities now long gone—Kurt Cobain, Elvis, Diana, JFK, and so forth. Although message sources are likely to influence cognition, media effects research during the past two decades indicates relatively enduring behavior changes may result from the emotional bonds that media audiences form with media personalities such as soap opera characters, rock musicians, and athletic stars (Brown & Basil, 1995; Fraser & Brown, 2002; Japhet, 1999; Nariman, 1993; Sabido, 1989; Shefner- Rogers, Rogers, & Singhal, 1998; Singhal, Obregon, & Rogers, 1994). In the present study, we seek to extend the process of identification from focus on an individual to focus on a group of people. Although it is unlikely that all the passengers and crew on board UA Flight 93 had the opportunity to be a hero, we can still examine how people identified with them as a group based on their collective behavior. The Heroes of United Airlines Flight 93 On September 11, 2001 two planes struck the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Both towers collapsed within an hour. Shortly after the attacks on New York City, a plane struck the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, hitting the most recently renovated portion of the building. Then at 10:06 a.m., a plane crashed in a

Authors: Brown, William. and Fraser, Benson.
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Lessons from Shanksville
p. 7
McGuire’s (2001) hierarchy of effects model, and Petty and Cacioppo’s (1986)
elaboration likelihood model. All these approaches focus on cognitive processes that lead
to attitude and behavior change.
However, the theories or models mentioned above overemphasize the power of
cognition and underestimate the power of emotion in promoting long-term behavior
change. They fall short in capturing the passionate feelings some individuals have for
celebrities and heroes, producing in some cases enduring changes in peoples’ lives.
People continue to be affected by celebrities now long gone—Kurt Cobain, Elvis, Diana,
JFK, and so forth. Although message sources are likely to influence cognition, media
effects research during the past two decades indicates relatively enduring behavior
changes may result from the emotional bonds that media audiences form with media
personalities such as soap opera characters, rock musicians, and athletic stars (Brown &
Basil, 1995; Fraser & Brown, 2002; Japhet, 1999; Nariman, 1993; Sabido, 1989; Shefner-
Rogers, Rogers, & Singhal, 1998; Singhal, Obregon, & Rogers, 1994).
In the present study, we seek to extend the process of identification from focus on
an individual to focus on a group of people. Although it is unlikely that all the passengers
and crew on board UA Flight 93 had the opportunity to be a hero, we can still examine
how people identified with them as a group based on their collective behavior.
The Heroes of United Airlines Flight 93
On September 11, 2001 two planes struck the north and south towers of the World
Trade Center in New York City. Both towers collapsed within an hour. Shortly after the
attacks on New York City, a plane struck the Pentagon in Arlington, VA, hitting the most
recently renovated portion of the building. Then at 10:06 a.m., a plane crashed in a


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