Watching romantic comedy films does not lead young adults to develop unrealistic expectations about relationships, according to a new study.
Researchers surveyed 335 college students, aged 18 to 26, in the Midwest and found that watching romantic comedies often was not strongly associated with romantic ideals such as love at first sight and having a soul mate.
The study was published online in the journal Communication Monographs.
How young people see romantic comedies
"These findings discredit the popular assumption that exposure to romantic comedies is a major source leading to unrealistic relational expectations among young people," principal investigator Veronica Hefner, an assistant professor of communication studies at Chapman University in California, said in a journal news release.
Hefner and her colleagues did find, however, that young adults who said they watched romantic comedies to learn about relationships were slightly more likely to believe in romantic ideals, particularly the idealization of a partner. This includes believing that a partner should be perfect or will be completely accepting, loving and understanding.
"What really matters is not what you watch, but why you watch," Hefner said.
About 70% of the study participants were women. Overall, men and women had the same responses about romantic beliefs. Hefner said this finding challenges the popular belief that "women are the ones who are most idealistic and most influenced by romantic comedies."
The Nemours Foundation offers teens advice about healthy relationships.
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