Isn't It Romantic? Differential Associations Between Romantic Screen Media Genres and Romantic Beliefs

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The goal of the present study was to investigate the associations between exposure to different genres of romantic screen media and idealistic romantic beliefs. Participants were 625 college students who completed a survey that assessed exposure to 3 romantic screen media genres (marriage-themed reality TV, romantic-themed and subthemed [RTST] movies, and situation comedies); perceived realism of TV; and endorsement of romantic beliefs, as assessed by the Romantic Beliefs Scale (Sprecher & Metts, 1989). Heavier exposure to sitcoms was associated with weaker endorsement of a general ideology of romanticism. Romantic screen media genres were differentially associated with specific romantic beliefs in ways that were consistent with the differing romantic messages promoted by these genres. Heavier exposure to RTST movies was associated with a stronger tendency to believe that “Love Finds a Way”; heavier exposure to marriage-themed reality TV was associated with stronger beliefs in “Idealization” and “Love at First Sight”; and heavier exposure to situation comedies was associated with weaker beliefs in “Idealization” and “One and Only.” These results highlight the importance of using genre-specific measures in studies of romantic media. Implications for cultivation theory and healthy relationships are discussed.

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