A Disney Romance for the Ages: Idealistic Beliefs of Romantic Relationships Held By Youth

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Virginia Tech

The Disney Princess Brand includes 11 Disney Princess films from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) to Brave (2012). The goal of this campaign is for audiences to be entertained by the narratives while encouraging identification with the princesses in the films (Do Rozario, 2004; Orenstein, 2006). Scholars have suggested possible media effects of representations and messages depicted related to gender roles (England, Descartes, and Collier-Meek, 2011) and romantic relationships (Segrin and Nabi, 2002). No studies to date have examined the potential correlation between media effects of all 11 Disney Princess films and viewers' expectations regarding romantic relationships with a theoretical background in cultivation theory, social cognitive theory, wishful identification, and uses and gratification theory. The purpose of this thesis was to explore the relationship between potential media effects due to watching Disney Princess films and expectations of romantic relationships. An online cross-sectional survey was administered to female undergraduate students enrolled at Virginia Tech (N = 110). Bivariate correlation analyses were computed to measure the data. Results did not support hypotheses related to motivations for watching Disney Princess films, cultivated ideologies due to exposure of all films, and perceived similarity to princesses in relation to idealistic beliefs of romantic relationships. Wishful identification with the princesses was significantly correlated with participants' idealistic beliefs of romantic relationships. Possible implications are that participants in late adolescence (18 - 23 years of age) wish to be like the Disney princesses and to have similar romantic relationships that are represented in the films.

Disney Princesses, Cultivation Theory, Social Cognitive Theory, Wishful Identification, Uses and Gratification Theory