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The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
BOVELAND, T. A. (2000). The Effects of a Movie Clip on Change in Love Concepts. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 3. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 28, 2023 .

The Effects of a Movie Clip on Change in Love Concepts

Sponsored by: MUKUL BHALLA (bhalla@loyno.edu)
The purpose of this experiment was to discern whether or not movies had an influence on peoples` love attitudes. Psychology freshmen women (N=27)were given Sternberg`s Triangle Theory of Love Scale (1990) and Hendrick and Hendrick`s Love Attitudes Scale (1993) before and after viewing a movie scene to measure their love attitudes. The hypothesis that after watching a movie scene depicting a certain romance concept the participants` scores on that concept would be higher after retaking the scales than the scores from the first scales was not supported. Scores for passion went down, however, the scores for commitment and emotional intimacy rose. Therefore it was concluded that movies probably had a negative influence on people`s love concepts rather than a positive influence.

Emotions such as joy or sadness are commonplace. Most people can recall a happy moment or a sad event. Though everyone experiences emotions, not all people experience all emotions. Emotions such as pride, shame, and love are not a part of everyone’s lives. However, even though a person may never have experienced love, they have an idea of what being in love should feel like. They may believe that love should be passionate, or they feel that commitment to one another is love. Some may feel that friendship is the main concept of love. The question becomes what influences people’s expectancies of love if they have never been in love or if they are experiencing love for the first time? How do people know what love feels like? While influences can include family, peers, and religion: popular culture is also very influential on emotions. Specifically, romance movies’ influence on a person’s concept of love. Even though two individuals may have the same influences, different love concepts can exist.Bierhoff (1991) focused on these love concepts as they related to the research of Lee (1976) and Sternberg (1986). Lee’s research led him to theorize that six love concepts exist. Of the six styles, three were primary: romantic, game playing, and friendship. The other three, possessive, pragmatic, and altruistic were combinations of the three primary styles. Sternberg developed the Triangular Theory of Love, which distinguished between passion, commitment and emotional intimacy. Bierhoff observed that the two theories intertwined. Passion can be associated with romantic and possessive love. Intimacy and commitment are related to friendship love. As for the Lee’ s other three styles in relation to Sternberg’s theory, Sternberg did not consider pragmatic love as a kind of love. The other two, game playing and altruistic love, were in some way, according to Sternberg, a part of the three components he named. He explained the relationships in his own presentation of the Triangular Love Theory.According to Sternberg (1986) passion, commitment, and emotional intimacy form the vertices of a triangle. The roles played by each component in a relationship can give rise to one of eight kinds of love. Non-love (the absence of all three components), liking (emotional intimacy only), infatuation (passion only), empty love (commitment only), romantic love (intimacy and passion), compassionate love (intimacy and commitment), fatuous love (passion and commitment), consummate love (all three components). Sternberg stated that game playing could occur in any type of love. He also asserted that Lee’s pragmatic style was merely a guide in choosing a mate. Sternberg came up with The Triangular Love Scale (1990) to measure the components’ importance within relationships. The validity and reliability of this scale have both been tested.The validity and reliability of Sternberg’s Triangular Love Scale was tested by Hale and Lemieux (1999). By combining the Miller Social Intimacy Scale, Hatfield’s Passionate Love Scale, and Hendrick’s Relationship Satisfaction Scale they tested undergraduate students to see if Sternberg`s three components were present in any of the relationships. The results showed that while Sternberg’s scale was valid, it was not reliable. Hale and Lemieux claimed to be testing the reliability of Sternberg’s love scale; however, the scale was not used in the study. All they managed to do was prove the validity of Sternberg’s theory.Another scale used to identify love concepts was the Love Attitudes Scale (Tzeng, 1993). Hendrick, Hendrick, and Dicke (1998) attempted to make a short form of the Love Attitudes Scale and test the validity of the scale. Using a four-item version of the scale, instead of seven items like the original scale, they tested undergraduate participants. The participants were tested over a three-year period in groups. The results showed that the short form had more reliability and validity than the short form.As mentioned earlier, several influences on the formation of love concepts exist. The media, especially movies, is an example of these influences. According to Tan (1996), movies project a vision of how reality should be. He asserts that this portrayal is taken in by the viewer and used as a cognitive social and emotional guide (Tan, 1996, p. 23). Tan also presents the theory of Atkin (1985), which states that one chooses movies that confirm his/her beliefs, thus strengthening them. Tan also points out the conclusions of Fenigstein and Heyduk (1985), which state that exposure to a particular theme results in fantasies and behaviors of the theme (p. 36). Tan’s book gives much insight into films and emotion; however, he focuses primarily on immediate effects on the person not how film aids in forming views. A study concerning movies’ aid in forming views of love was performed in India.Derne’ (2000) studied how love films change the views of love held by Indian men (Derne’, 2000, Chap. 5). The men in India viewed love of their wives as secondary to a respectful fear and obedience of parents. The recent films in India showed something different. The films presented a view of love being more important than anything, and equality in relationships. Derne’ interviewed male moviegoers twice: once in 1987 and a second time in 1991. He found that most held the traditional view of the hierarchy of love and respectful fear. In the second interviews he found that most of the men had changed their views and now saw love and equality as more important than fear and obedience to parents. Derne’ admitted that the men were reticent in admitting the extent of the films’ influence on their attitudes, which casts some questions on his results.Because movies are an important part of the American culture it is important study their effects on every aspect of human life, especially emotions. Movies teach about the world around us, and have grand influence on society’s norms and values. This study measured love attitudes before and after watching romance scenes. Love attitudes were defined as three different concepts. The three concepts of love looked at in the experiment were passion, commitment, and emotional intimacy. Passion as defined by Glover and Harris (1996) was “…intense feelings of arousal that arise from physical attraction and sexual attraction,” commitment was defined as “the decision to stay with one’s partner for life,” emotional intimacy “focuses on liking, friendship, trust, and feelings of emotional closeness” (Glover & Harris 1996). A rise in scores after watching the scene and retaking the love scales showed the possible influence of the movies. We hypothesized that after watching a movie scene depicting a certain romance concept, the participants’ scores on that concept would be higher after retaking the scales then the scores from the first scales.


Twenty-seven female psychology undergraduate students were recruited from Loyola University New Orleans for this study. They were all over the age of eighteen. Convenience sampling was used to obtain the participants through the faculty at Loyola, who informed the students in the psychology learning communities that a study about love styles needed volunteers. Some of them received course credit for participating in the study.

An informed consent form was made for the participants to sign. It told the participantswhat the experiment was meant to study, and what duties the participants were expected to perform (See Appendix A). Two consent forms were given to the participants. One was for them to keep, and one was to be signed and given back to the experimenter. The demographics questionnaire asked for age, sex, major, year of college, race, strength of religion, and experience with love. The questions used to measure love concepts came from The Triangular Love Scale (Sternberg, 1990) and the Love Attitudes Scale (Hendrick & Hendrick, 1986). The Triangular Love Scale consisted of three sections and forty-five statements with fifteen statements for each section. The sections were intimacy, passion, and commitment. The participants were asked to rate the importance of the statements on a scale of one to seven. One meant not important, and seven meant very important. One of the questions from the intimacy portion was, “I have a warm relationship with ____” (Sternberg, 1990) (See Appendix B for complete scale). Hendrick and Hendrick developed the Love Attitudes Scale. It consisted of six sections and forty-two statements with seven statements for each section. The sections were Eros (passionate love), ludus (game-playing love), storge (friendship love), pragma (logical love), mania (possessive and dependent love), and agape (all-giving selfless love). The participants were asked to rate the importance of the statements on a scale of one to five. One meant strongly agree, and five meant strongly disagree. One of the questions from Eros was “I feel that my partner and I were meant for each other” (Tzeng, 1993, pp. 144-146). In the study a condensed version of the Love Attitudes Scale, containing the sections Eros, Storge, and agape, was used (See Appendix C).Besides the two love scales a movie clip was used. The scene lasted two minutes and came from the movie “Jerry Maguire.” It depicted the two stars kissing on the front porch. The selection of the scene was based on whichever concept was least prevalent among the participants’ scores. If the scores for the concept depicted in the movie went up, then we could conclude that the movie clip had an effect, if not, then no effect could be determined.

This research study was an experimental two correlated groups design. The independent variable was the movie clip. The dependent variable was the change in love concepts on the passion, commitment, and emotional intimacy sub-scales, based on the scores received by the participants before and after watching the movie clip. Passion was defined as physical and sexual attraction. Commitment was defined as the decision to stay with one’s partner. Emotional intimacy was defined as friendship and emotional closeness. The three concepts were measured according to scores on the Triangular Love Scale and the Love Attitudes Scale. The highest scores in either of the concepts indicated which concept of love the participants held.In an effort to rule out extraneous values, the participants took the scales in the same room, both times. The same instructions for filling out the scales were given to everyone. Everyone started the scales at the same time. All were shown the same movie scene and given the same explanation of what it was about.We requested that the faculty of Loyola University announce to the undergraduate students that a project that wished to document the love styles of Loyola students was taking place. The participants were tested in groups. Upon arriving at the testing location, participants were seated comfortably and given two informed consent forms to read and sign. One form was for the participants and one was for the experimenter. Once informed consent was obtained the participants were given the testing packages, which consisted of the Triangular Love Scale and the Love Attitudes Scale. They were asked not to put their names anywhere on the package, instead they were assigned code numbers.During the first five minutes, they were asked to fill out the demographic information sheet, which asked about age, race, major, year of college, strength of religion, and love experience. The participants then filled out the love scales. The participants were asked to come back one week later to the same room they took the scales in. They returned to the same room that they took the scales in, for thirty minutes. They were shown a movie clip and immediately given the love scales to fill out again. After the experiment the subjects were debriefed. They were told that the scores made on the first test would be compared to the scores they made on the second test to see if the movie clip had an effect on the scores. When they had completed the experiment, they were thanked and asked to leave.

A t-test for paired samples was used in analyzing the data (see Table 1). The hypothesis was not supported for the passion sections of both the Triangular Theory of Love Scale and the Love Attitudes Scale. The scene did affect the scores for the emotional intimacy and commitment sections of the Triangular Theory of Love scale.

See Table 1 for the individual means, and standard deviations of both love scales. The comparison of the t-test for the Passion section of the Triangular Theory of Love Scale, before and after the movie scene, was not significant, t (26) = -.88 p = .383. The comparison of the t-test for the Eros section of the Love Attitudes Scale, before and after the movie scene, again was not significant, t (26) = -.29, p = 776. A statistically significant difference did occur for the Emotional Intimacy and the Commitment sections of the Triangular Theory of Love Scale (See Table 1).

The original hypothesis was not supported by the results. While the scores for compassion and emotional intimacy went up on the Triangular Theory Love Scale, the movie scene showed portrayed passion. The passion scores, which were expected to rise, went down. This finding was in contrast to the findings of Derne’ (2000) where Hindi men perceived love as more important in a relationship after watching romance movies. However, the theories presented by Tan (1996), which present movies as emotional machines, were not rejected because the movie scene could have caused the significant rise of the other two sections. No significant change was found in any sections of the Love Attitudes Scale, even though scores did rise for the Agape and Storge sections of the scale. The rise may not have been significant because the numbers used for scoring the Love Attitudes Scale (from 1-5) were too small to compute a change. The lowering of the passion section and rise of the other sections on the Triangular Theory of Love Scale was not expected. The occurrence of this event has been named, by this experimenter, as the Phenomena of Negative Influence. Whereas positive influence refers to a rise in passion scores after viewing the scene and a drop in the other scores, negative influence refers to the drop in passion scores and the rise in emotional intimacy and commitment scores. The limitations of the study included sample size, misinterpretation of instructions, small effect size, and time constraints. Because there was a small sample size, a variety of scores could not be obtained. A larger sample size would have generated more varied results and presented a more complete representation of the population. Only females were used in the study, therefore, a study concerning male reactions would be interesting.Some of the participants may have used their actual relationships to answer the questions, instead of their expectations, as they were told to do. If a person was in a loveless relationship, the answers based on this relationship were lower in relation to the ideal relationship. Likewise, if anything changed in the relationship during the period between tests, the scores on the second scale would have been affected. In the study, only one passion scene was shown. A variety of passionate scenes should have been shown, as opposed to just one so that the participants were bombarded with different levels of passionate scenes. The term “level” refers to the intensity of the scene. For example, sex is more intense than mere kissing. The intensity could have affected the participants’ view of the scene as passionate. The one scene presented, two actors kissing on the porch, may have been considered mild to some participants and therefore not as passionate as a scene where the actors were in bed together. While the scene may have been arousing to some viewers, the scene might have turned others off. Finally, the participants were given no time for the movie scene to sink in before having to take the scales. After watching the scene, the participants were immediately given the scale. If the participants had time to absorb the scene, their answers could have been a result of the scene’s influence. Since the scales were given immediately, the scores were recorded with initial reactions in mind. If these initial reactions were that passion is negative, then the scores would have lowered.This study showed that movies might have a negative effect on people’s expectations of love, as opposed to a positive effect. If this study’s findings were accurate, and movies did affect the participants’ perceptions, then filmmakers would need to be more critical about what perception is given off in movies. The public would also need to be more conscious of the movie’s they chose to go see. Love style may not be the only thing affected by movies. The values people had, or their perceptions of how the world works could also have been affected, especially if the person was susceptible to outside influences. If movies did have an effect, then they could cause the viewers to form unrealistic views of real life situations. This study allowed insight into how college students are affected by movies. Children, who may be more easily influenced by what they see, should be taken into consideration as far as movies’ effects. Hopefully, this study will inspire others to perform more thorough examinations of love styles and how they are formed, and on measurements of love. In addition to studying love styles, more studies should be performed on movies and how they influence all ages. These studies should also look at the effects of violence in movies, stereotypes, and/or the portrayal of family situations. If the Phenomena of Negative Influence exists it should be studied in more depth, possibly seeing if the phenomena occurs with other love styles. Further studies should look at movies’ influence on males. Studies could also look at whether or not a person had been in love previously, whether or not religion can be a factor, and race differences. Other studies could look only at people who are not in relationships.This was only the beginning of the studies concerning movies’ influence on people; however, there is much more that can be discovered. Researchers should be aware of this when they are performing this study and keep their minds open to possible surprises such as the Phenomena of Negative Influence.

Bierhoff, H. W. (1991). Twenty years of research on love: Theory, results, and prospects for the future. The German Journal of Psychology, 15, 95-117. [On-line], Available September 18, 2000, from WebSPIRS on-line database PsycINFO, Item 0705-5870. Derne’, S. (2000). Movies, masculinity, and modernity: An ethnography of men’s film going in India. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Dicke, A., Hendrick, C., & Hendrick, S. (1998). The love attitudes scale: Short form. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 15, 147-159. [On-line], Available September 28, 2000, from WebSPIRS on-line database PsycINFO, Item 0265-4075.Glover, J., & Harris, B. (1996). The love test. [On-line], Available September 8, 2000, from the World Wide Web: http://topchoice.com/~psyche/lovetestHale, J., & Lemieux, R. (1999). Intimacy, passion, and commitment in young romantic relationships: Successfully measuring the triangular theory of love. Psychological Reports, 85 (2), 497-503. [On-line] Available September 28, 2000, from WebSPIRS on-line database PsycINFO, Item 0265-4075.Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93, 119-135. [On-line] Available September 28, 2000, from WebSPIRS on-line database (PsycINFO, Item 0033-295X).Sternberg, R. J. (1990). A visual image of love. [On-line], Available September 12, 2000, from the World Wide Web: http://www.familydynamics.netTan E. S. (1996). Emotion and the structure of narrative film: Film as an emotion machine. Manwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Tzeng, O. C. S. (1993). Measurement of love and intimate relations: Theories, scales, and applications for love development, maintenance, and dissolution. Westport, CT: Praeger.


Comparison of Scores for Triangular Theory of Love Scale (TTLS) and Love Attitudes Scale (LAS) before and after watching movie scene

TTLS BeforeTTLS After
Love StyleMSDMSDt-valuedfp-value
Emotional Intimacy121.55612.055118.33316.2032.2426.034

LAS BeforeLAS After
Love StyleMSDMSDt-valuedfp-value


Informed Consent Form


Dr. John Cornwell

Dr. Mukul Bhalla

Tiffany Boveland

Robyn Moline

ADDRESS and PHONE: Dept. of Psychology, Loyola University 6363 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70118 (504) 865-3095

I understand that I have been asked to participate in a study looking at romance movies’ influence on people’s concepts of love. I understand that I will be asked to answer some questions regarding my age, sex, major in school etc, and will also be taking a test measuring my attitudes towards love, and watching a romantic movie scene. All these tasks will take no more than a total of 30-35 minutes each time.

Before giving my consent by signing this form, I have been sufficiently informed of the purpose of the study and have had the opportunity to ask any questions of the principle investigators regarding this study and my participation in this study.

I understand that my identity and all information relating to me will be kept in strict confidence and that only the principle investigators will have knowledge of my identity. My name and signature as they appear on the consent form will be see only by the principle investigator. My data will be assigned a code number, which will not be associated with my name. As soon as the data are collected, all raw data will be destroyed.

I understand that any public report of the results of this study will contain only summarized data, and will not contain any individual data.

I understand that I may withdraw my permission at any time and that I may telephone the principle investigators at the number given above or contact the investigator at the address given above in order to ask questions about my participation in the study.

I understand that by providing my address, I am requesting a copy of the summarized results and/or my own scores, when they become available at the conclusion of this study.

I have read and understand the information given above and I sign this consent form willingly.

PRINTED NAME___________________________


SIGNED NAME____________________________

LOCAL ADDRESS________________________________



Sternberg’s Triangular Love Scale

The blanks represent the person with whom you are in a relationship.Please rate the importance of each statement on a scale of 1(not at all) to 9 (extremely).

A. Intimacy1. I am actively supportive of _____ well being.2. I have a warm relationship with _____.3. I am able to count on ____ in times of need.4. ____ is able to count on me in times of need.5. I am willing to share myself and my possessions with ____.6. I receive considerable emotional support from ____.7. I give considerable emotional support to ____.8. I communicate well with ____.9. I value ____ greatly in my life.10. I feel close to ____.11. I have a comfortable relationship with ____.12. I feel that I really understand ____.13. I feel that ____ really understands me.14. I feel that I really can trust ____.15. I share deeply personal information about myself with ____.

B. Passion16. Just seeing ____ excites me.17. I find myself thinking about ____ frequently during the day.18. My relationship with ____ is very romantic.19. I find ____ to be very personally attractive.20. I idealize ____.21. I cannot imagine another person making me as happy as ____ does.22. I would rather be with ____ than with anyone else.23. There is nothing more important to me than my relationship with ____.24. I especially like physical contact with ____.25. There is something almost “magical” about my relationship with ____.26. I adore ____.27. I cannot imagine life without ____.28. My relationship with ____ is passionate.29. When I see romantic movies or read romantic books I think of ____.30. I fantasize about ____.C. Commitment31. I know that I care about ____.32. I am committed to maintaining my relationship with ____.33. Because of my commitment to ____, I would not let other people come between us.34. I have confidence in the stability of my relationship with ____.

35. I could not let anything get in the way of my commitment to ____.36. I expect my love for ____ to last for the rest of my life.37. I will always feel a strong responsibility for ____.38. I view my commitment to ____ as a solid one.39. I cannot imagine ending my relationship with ____.40. I am certain of my love for ____.41. I view my relationship with ____ as permanent.42. I view my relationship with ____ as a good decision.43. I feel a sense of responsibility toward ____.44. I plan to continue my relationship with ____.45. Even when ____ is hard to deal with, I remain committed to our relationship.

Submitted 11/30/00 2:09:07 PM
Last Edited 1/3/2002 12:23:29 PM
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