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Abstract

In the year 2013, Warren Buffett was named one of the most influential people of the year by TIME magazine. When people are exposed to such news, they show strong interest in who the influential people are and how those people became so successful. Likewise, people show strong attachment to other prominent figures as well. This social phenomenon indicates that people perceive well-known persona like business leaders, TV stars or sports stars etc. as human brands of intangible assets. As the role of these human brands is becoming more important, people tend to develop stronger attachment toward them. Another notable modern social phenomenon is people``s pursuit of life- satisfaction and social well-being. People desire to increase their quality of life by having quality time with family and friends, and also by building attachment towards celebrities, sports stars, and so on. The main objective of this study is to examine how attachment toward human brands affects quality of life. While existing studies on human brands examined antecedents of attachment, e.g., some needs fulfillment such as A-R-C needs (autonomy, relatedness and competence needs) fulfillment, this study focuses on the outcome variables of attachment, e.g., how attachment toward human brands affects stress relief and life satisfaction through self-efficacy. Based on previous research, we divided human brands into two types: heroes and celebrities. Heroes are defined as people who have considerable and lasting importance on both societal and individual levels, and celebrities are defined as people who are well-known but have little or no short-term impact on society and individual levels. This study focuses on how attachment toward each type of human brands, celebrities and heroes, affects the quality of life or well-being. This study focuses on three important outcome variables; stress relief, life satisfaction, and self-efficacy, (three variables) which have been recently gaining importance, especially in the domain of positive psychology. Major findings from the present study show that although celebrities draw attachment from people by providing fun and entertainment or providing stress relief, they have weak influences on the well- being or efficacy of individuals at a deeper level. In contrast, attachment toward heroes helps people live better by providing meaning and positively influencing life satisfaction through self-efficacy (Frankl 1997). These results are consistent with the main tenet of ``positive psychology`` which seeks "to find and nurture genius and talent and to make normal life more fulfilling" (Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi 2000). Considering the fact that certain celebrities are perceived as heroes to some, we can conclude that celebrities can become heroes if they provide meaning and value to the lives of people. This study contributes to the research stream of human brands since the most current leading research (e.g., Thomson 2006) indicated the need to look at the resulting effect of attachment on life satisfaction through self-efficacy. Another important contribution is that we empirically documented the different effects of celebrities and heroes. As expected, this study shows that heroes more deeply influence the lives of individuals in the long term while celebrities do so rather shallowly in the short term. The issues of the influence of heroes on the individuals`` lives need to be further investigated in relation with the perspective of positive psychology.

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