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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Romantic comedy films-Psychological aspects, Women-Psychology, Women in mass media, Mass media-Psychological aspects, Self-perception in women, Interpersonal relations, Media, Uses and gratifications theory, Women, Relationship, Beliefs, Experiment, Self-perception


A number of studies have found relationships between the romantic media we consume and dysfunctional relationship beliefs we hold, with greater media consumption relating to more dysfunctional relationship beliefs. However, nearly all of these studies have been correlational in nature and do not allow us to infer whether media truly cause dysfunctional beliefs. Moreover, previous literature has not yet addressed the question of whether romantic media use not only leads to maladaptive beliefs about relationships, but dysfunctional beliefs about ourselves. Research specifically investigating the primary consumers of romantic media, women, is also lacking. This study utilized a Solomon Four Groups experimental design to empirically test whether exposure to the popular romantic comedy film, Notting Hill, would affect both relationship beliefs and beliefs about self. This study employed the uses and gratifications theory of media consumption to identify the mechanisms underlying the observed effects of media exposure. These mechanisms included perceived realism, social comparative attitudes, and selfesteem. Results revealed that film exposure had no significant post exposure affects. Pre test sensitization was evident among participants in relationships in the romantic comedy condition. Correlational data provided support for uses and gratifications theory and the idea that media exposure is related to our beliefs about relationships. Correlational data also showed that couples relate to romantic media in different ways than single subjects.




59 p. Honors project-Smith College, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 39-46)