Instagram Users’ Para-Social Interactions with Virtual Influencers: The Mediating Role of Human-Likeness, Perceived Similarity, and Wishful Identification

  • Dian Jin University Putra Malaysia
  • Wan Anita Wan Abas
  • Syafila Kamarudin


With technological developments, virtual influencers have been created and are experienced by social media users and practitioners. As it is a relatively new topic, existing research on users’ para-social responses toward virtual influencers is currently insufficient. Therefore, this study conducted an online experiment (N = 211), comparing Instagram users’ para-social interactions with virtual or human influencers. After participants were exposed to images of human and virtual influencers, they were asked to complete the questionnaires. The results showed a significant difference between the users’ para-social responses to the two groups. Additionally, four relevant mediator variables were examined. “Mental human-likeness” and “wishful identification” were found to have significant negative mediating effect on the relationship between influencer type and users’ para-social interactions. The results have important implications for media psychology and contribute to studies on virtual influencers.


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How to Cite
JIN, Dian; ABAS, Wan Anita Wan; KAMARUDIN, Syafila. Instagram Users’ Para-Social Interactions with Virtual Influencers: The Mediating Role of Human-Likeness, Perceived Similarity, and Wishful Identification. International Journal of Business and Technology Management, [S.l.], v. 5, n. 2, p. 114-126, june 2023. ISSN 2682-7646. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 22 sep. 2023.