Celebrities impact public in many ways easily. Angelina Jolie's decision to remove breasts has inspired many women to go for similar genetic testing , says a study. Jolie decided to remove both her breasts because she had been tested positive for a gene that is associated with an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
She received widespread media attention two years ago when she told the public that she had tested positive for the gene BRCA1.
"Women who identified strongly with Jolie were more likely to get the genetic testing regardless of whether they had a family history of cancer than women who did have a family history of cancer but did not identify with Jolie," said lead author Kami Kosenko, associate professor of communication at North Carolina State University in the US.
"The same was true of women who felt they had some sort of para-social relationship with Jolie, meaning they viewed her as a friend. This means that Jolie's speaking out definitely had an impact," Kosenko said.
The findings suggest that when it comes to a celebrity's impact on the public, that impact depends in part on the extent to which the public identifies with the celebrity.
"We put a questionnaire online within three days of Jolie's announcement, to see if the announcement influenced anyone's intention to get genetic testing," Kosenko said.
For the study, 356 people from across the US completed the questionnaire, of which 295 were aware of Jolie's announcement. Researchers found that 30% of 229 female study participants intended to get tested to see if they carried the BRCA1 gene.