A new study has found podcast enjoyers score highly for openness to experiences, curiosity and the need for good ‘ol brain stimulation. Once again proving my theory that podcasts are the elite form of media consumption. And if you’re more agreeable, you’re more likely to form parasocial relationships with podcast hosts. Who knew!
All of this was unpacked by a new study called ‘Why people listen: Motivations and outcomes of podcast listening’. I could answer that one easily: I listen to podcasts so I can repeat the most entertaining stories from them at dinner parties. No other reason.
But the study found a whole host of interesting factoids about podcast listeners. Essentially it found people who listened to podcast wanted to know stuff.
They scored highly for epistemic curiosity. That’s science speak for the desire for knowledge. Similarly podcast listeners reported a need for cognition aka mental stimulation.
“Podcasts should appeal to those high in need for cognition, as they would allow them to ‘feed the brain’ while engaging in mundane tasks,” said the study.
Podcast enjoyers also scored higher when it came to openness to experience. Listeners can engage in a whole bunch of topics through podcasts. Hence why I can jump from comedy to Dungeons and Dragons to You’re Wrong About all in the same day.
The study looked at 306 people across more than 10 countries. It found that those who were podcast enjoyers might have stronger informational needs. This perhaps explains why I listened to the entire Sweet Bobby series in a single day: I am simply a nosy b*tch.
One of the most interesting findings was about podcast listeners and their parasocial relationships with podcast hosts. As someone who genuinely considers my fave podcast hosts to be my best friends (Maintenance Phase’s Michael Hobbes and Aubrey Gordon, I’m looking at you) this does not surprise me.
The study gave a little bit of detail about why exactly listeners form parasocial relationships with podcast hosts.
“The emerging literature on parasocial relationships between podcasters and their listeners suggests that people can form such attachments and that a podcaster’s communication style can affect the strength of the parasocial relationship,” it explained.
I mean it makes sense. Podcasts are usually conversational and intimate. Many of the best ones sound like your pal telling you a cooked yarn.
And if podcast hosts have a good dynamic with each other, it just feels like you’re listening to your besties have a deep ‘n meaningful.
The study asked participants to rank how much they agreed with phrases like “I think my favourite podcast host is like an old friend”.
It found that those podcast listeners who ranked higher for “agreeableness” were more likely to have parasocial relationships with podcast hosts. Besties4Lyf!
“The more you listen, the more you socially engage and feel like the favourite host is a friend,” study co-author Dr Stephanie Tobin from Queensland University of Technology told The Guardian.
“Feeling like the podcast host was your friend was related to feeling generally more connected with other people.”
As well as a positive associations between extraversion and parasocial relos, the study also found a connection between extraversion and social engagement with podcasts.
“Both social engagement with podcasts and parasocial relationships with one’s favorite podcast host were stronger among those who spent more time listening to podcasts,” the study reported.
“Additionally, social engagement was associated with listening to more podcasts per month and parasocial relationships were associated with listening to more podcasts with hosts they knew from somewhere else.”
Participants who were less likely to have listened to podcasts scored higher in feeling the need to belong and in neuroticism. Interesting!
Those two findings in particularly both mark podcast listening as different from social media use, according to the study. Usually social media is correlated with neuroticism and feeling the need to belong.
I’m not saying we should all delete our social media accounts and listen to podcasts instead. But we should all delete our social media accounts and listen to podcasts instead.