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MOLINE, R. H. (2000). The Effects of Movie Scenes on Change in Love Styles. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 3. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved September 26, 2023 .

The Effects of Movie Scenes on Change in Love Styles

Sponsored by: MUKUL BHALLA (bhalla@loyno.edu)
This study observed whether there is a relationship between watching romantic movie scenes and individuals’ ideas about love. Twenty-seven undergraduate females between the ages of 17-20 participated in a test/retest study on love attitudes. Participants filled out Sternberg’s Triangular Theory of Love Scale (TTLS) and Hendrick’s Love Attitudes Scale (LAS) before and after watching a romantic movie scene from Jerry Maguire. It was hypothesized that participants would score higher on the passion portion of the TTLS and lower on the Eros section of the LAS after viewing the movie scene. Although the findings did not support our direct hypothesis, results indicated that movies have significant effects on two out of the six types of love studied.

Love comes in all different forms. It is an element that constantly presents itself in everyday life. Novels, songs, and movies continuously portray the mystical side of love through passages of summer flings, lyrics of passionate affairs, and scenes where it becomes obvious that two people love each other and are meant only for each other. Other forms of love appear in friendships, parent-child relationships, and relationships among siblings; however, the most intriguing type of love is expressed in intimate, opposite or same sex relationships. “I love you” are words that are commonly exchanged between two people, but what does it mean to love? Does everyone mean the same thing when they say they are in love? Are people’s ideas of love influenced by what they watch, read, or listen to? Several experimenters have conducted research to define love and the different styles of love. However, few experimenters investigate the possible influences on love. This paper will reflect on past studies to gain a reasonable definition of love as well as examine one possible influencing factor on love. Lee conducted one of the major studies on love. Through careful observations and analysis of individuals in loving relationships, Lee developed six styles of love: Eros, Ludus, Storage, Mania, Pragma, and Agape. Eros, the romantic type love style, would best be described as “love at first sight”. Ludus represents playing the field or playing hard to get. In this type of love, a person delights in having a good time and rejects the idea of commitment. Storage refers to the type of love people share with a friend. The remaining three love styles form combinations of the three described above. Mania, which borderlines obsession, combines Eros and Ludus together. Pragma, the combination of Ludus and Storage, involves dating several people before deciding on the perfect mate. Agape love is the combination between Eros and Storage. Individuals with the Agape love style tend to be considerate of their significant others’ needs (Lee 1976; as cited by Bierhoff, 1991). After analyzing Lee’s study, Hendrick and Hendrick (1986) composed the Love Attitudes Scale to measure the six styles of love (Bierhoff, 1991). Sternberg’s (1986) triangular theory of love elaborates on Lee’s six styles of love. Sternberg breaks down his theory into three main groups and then describes eight different combinations of love. The first three components are intimacy (emotional closeness), passion (desire or arousal), and commitment (the decision to stay together). In accordance with Lee’s theories, Sternberg’s intimacy resembles Storage; commitment bears a similarity to Agape, and passion results from a combination of Mania and Eros (Bierhoff, 1991). Sternberg’s eight combinations include the following: (a) nonlove, the lack of intimacy, passion and commitment; (b) liking, the lack of passion and commitment; (c) infatuated love, only having passion present; (d) empty love, commitment only; (e) romantic love, intimacy and passion are present; (f) companionate love, intimacy plus commitment; (g) fatuous love, passion and commitment; and (h) consummate love, a combination of all three elements (Sternberg, 1986). After reaching several definitions of love, it is necessary to not only limit the definitions but to also consider some of the factors that may influence one’s thoughts about love. Although many sources of pop culture and media have a tremendous influence on human emotions, this study specifically focused on the effects that romantic movie scenes have on people’s ideas about love. Several studies report that movies with violent content influence people to become more aggressive. In a study conducted by Black & Bevan (1992), participants took an aggression inventory before and after watching a violent or nonviolent film. Participants who chose to watch the violent filmed scored higher on aggression than those who chose to watch the nonviolent film. After watching the films, the violent-movie participants’ scores increased dramatically after watching the movie. If violent movies can bring out more feelings of aggression, then why wouldn’t romance movies bring out stronger feelings of love? Tan (1996) examined the structures of movies and how they appeal to audiences’ emotions. The sequence of the plot allows viewers to experience an “emotional episode”. As the movie progresses, the audience begins to emotionally identify with the main characters and situations presented in the movie (Frijda, Mesquita, Sonnemans, and Van Goozen [1991, p. 201]; as cited by Tan, 1996). One study, performed on men in India, suggests that married men were more likely to express love for their wives if they had been exposed to movies depicting heroes in love (Derne’, 2000). By identifying with the heroes, the Indian men were able to: (a) break free from the social and parental restraints imposed on them by their culture and (b) feel more comfortable expressing their love for their wives (Derne,’ 2000). In the current study, love was defined by Sternberg’s intimacy, passion, and commitment. The purpose of this study was to observe whether there is a relationship between watching romantic movie scenes and individuals` ideas about love. In order to accomplish this, participants answered statements on the Triangular Theory of Love Scale and the Love Attitudes Scale before watching a scene from a romantic movie and then again after watching a scene from a romantic movie. The scores were then calculated and compared to each other. It was hypothesized that individuals who scored high or low on the Triangular Theory of Love Scale would score higher after watching a romantic movie scene. Furthermore, individuals who scored high or low on the Love Attitudes Scale would score lower after watching a scene from a romantic movie that depicted the corresponding component of love on the survey.


Twenty-seven Loyola University undergraduate students participated in this study. One hundred percent of the participants were females. These convenience sample students represented various ethnic cultures. Participants’ ages ranged between 17-20 years old with the mean age being 18. Loyola professors announced to their classes that volunteers were needed to participate in a test/retest study inquiring about ideas of love. Students interested in participating were then asked to sign up for one of the allotted times offered for the study. Several students volunteered to participate, but the majority of the students participated in order to receive course credit.

The inventory package included two consent forms (one for the experimenters and one for the participant; see appendix A), demographic questions (such as race, religion age, etc.; see appendix B), and two scales that measured love styles (see appendixes C1 and C2). Sternberg’s (1986) Triangular Theory of Love Scale (TTLS) and the Eros, Storage, and Agape portions of the Hendrick & Hendrick’s (1986) Love Attitudes Scale (LAS) were used to measure participants’ love styles (Tzeng, 1993). Sternberg constructed a triangle composed of three basic love elements: intimacy, commitment, and passion. The Triangular Theory of Love Scale listed 15 statements for each love element, a total of 45 items. Statements such as the following were found on the TTLS: intimacy, “I am actively supportive of ___’s well being;” passion, “Just seeing ___ excites me;” and commitment, “I am committed to maintaining my relationship with ___.” Participants were to score each item on a scale of one to nine. One equaled not at all, five equaled moderately, and nine equaled extremely. Higher scores on the TTLS reflect participants’ agreement with love styles (http://www.familydynamics.com).Hendrick & Hendrick’s (1986) Love Attitudes Scale (LAS) measured Lee’s six styles of love: Eros, Ludus, Storage, Pragma, Mania, and Agape. The Love Attitudes scale listed seven statements for each style, a total of 42 statements. However, the current study only used edited portions of the Eros, Storage, and Agape questions. Statements such as the following were found on the LAS: Eros (passionate love), “My partner and I have the right physical “chemistry” between us;” Storage (friendship love), “I expect to always be friends with my partner;” and Agape (all-giving selfless love), “I would endure all things for the sake of my partner.” Participants rated each item on a scale of one to five. One equaled strongly agree, two equaled moderately agree, three equaled neutral, four equaled moderately disagree, and five equaled strongly disagree. Lower scores on the LAS indicate individuals’ agreement with love styles. Both scales have been established as valid; however, there is some skepticism concerning the reliability of the Triangular Theory of Love Scale (Hale & Lemieux, 1999).The Institutional Review Board (IRB) approved the movie scene. For ethical purposes, all nudity scenes and sexually explicit contents were rejected. Jerry Maguire was chosen for the Movie Scene. A five-minute clip, showing an intense kissing scene between a couple standing on the porch, was shown to the participants. The experimenters provided the participants with writing utensils, and then the participants proceeded to fill out the love attitude inventories.

This was an experimental, test/retest study that examined participants’ change in love styles after being exposed to a romantic movie scene. The independent variable (IV) was the romantic movie scene. Participants were asked to fill out the love scales after experiencing two different levels of the IV, first, before watching the movie scene and a week later, after watching the movie scene. The dependent variable (DV), change in love styles, was measured according to Sternberg’s (1986) Triangular Theory of Love Scale (TTLS) and Hendrick & Hendrick’s (1986) Love Attitudes Scale (LAS). Love styles were defined by intimacy (emotional closeness/bonding), passion (desire/arousal), and commitment (decision to love and remain together; Sternberg, 1986). To establish internal validity, All participants were required to fill out the survey in the same classroom. Participants were not allowed to take the surveys home. One week later, participants were asked to fill out the survey again. They were all seated in the same classroom that they were seated in the first time they filled out the survey. All participants were shown an identical movie scene and were required to fill out the survey in the classroom. These precautions were taken to make sure that any significant changes in scores were due to the influence of the movie scene and not some outside influence. Professors announced to their classes that volunteers were needed to participate in a test/retest study about ideas of love. Interested students signed up for the allotted times offered and listed their phone numbers and email addresses so that they could be contacted the day before the study as a reminder to participate. Participants were tested in a Loyola University classroom. Upon arrival, the participants were seated comfortably and given two informed consent forms (one for the participant and the other for the experimenters). A demographic questionnaire immediately followed the two consent forms. Questions from the demographic section included race, religion, age, and sex. All participants were given a survey comprised of a combination of both love scales. Participants’ surveys were assigned a three character code: (a) the first initial of their mother’s maiden name, (b) the first initial of their favorite grandparent’s name, and (c) the last digit of their telephone number. They were not required to put their names on the survey. This was done in order to ensure confidentiality and privacy. Participants were given a total of 30 minutes to fill out all forms. When finished, participants turned in their survey to the experimenter and were reminded to come back again for the second part of the study in one week. The results from the first part of the study were calculated to see which love style on the TTLS scored the least numerical value. The experimenter chose to look at the least numerical value on the TTLS because it had the greatest chance of increasing after watching the movie scene. If the love style with the least score happened to be passion, a movie with a passionate romantic movie scene would be shown before taking the next survey in order to determine whether or not the movie scene had any influence on the scores. One week later, the participants were reminded of their scheduled times to participate in the remaining part of the study. Participants were seated in the same room as they were before. They were instructed to watch the clip of a designated movie scene and were then retested. Participants were given 30 minutes to fill out the same test package as they had previously filled. As participants left, they handed in their surveys and were thanked for their participation. The experimenters gave participants a verbal debriefing. They explained the true intent of the study and reassured participants that the embarrassment or frustration felt from filling out the survey was typical of the average participant. Afterwards, the experimenters calculated the data from the retest inventories and compared them to the data of the first inventories. Higher scores on the Triangular Theory of Love Scale and lower scores on the Love Attitudes Scale retest indicated that the movie scene had an influence on the participants’ love styles.

The research was guided by four questions: (a) Can romance movies bring out stronger feelings of love? (b) Is there a relationship between watching romantic movies and individuals’ ideas about love? (c) Will individuals who scored high or low on the TTLS score higher after watching a romantic movie scene? (d) Will individuals who scored high or low on the LAS score lower after watching a scene from a romantic movie? To address our research questions, we examined the participants’ scores using a within groups t test (see Table 1). On the Triangular Theory of Love Scale (TTLS), passion scores before the movie scene were relatively low (M =98.1852, SD = 26.050). Passion scores did not grow significantly higher after the watching movie scene (M = 101.0000, SD = 27.872), p = .385. However, participants scored significantly lower on intimacy, p = .034 and significantly higher on commitment, p = .031. The LAS results show that Eros scores (passion’s counterpart) were actually lower before watching the movie scene (M = 12.4815, SD = 4.734). Contradictory to the hypothesis, Eros scores rose after watching the movie scene but not significantly (M = 12.7407, SD = 4.346), p = .475. Storage scores also did not demonstrate significant findings, p = .475. Agape scores (commitment’s counterpart) were lower before exposure to the romantic movie scene and were not significantly effected by exposure to the scene, p = .071.

The purpose of this study was to observe whether there is a relationship between watching romantic movie scenes and individuals’ ideas about love. In our sample of 27 undergraduate students, we did not discover significant findings to support our hypothesis. In Black & Bevan’s study (1992), aggressive participants scored higher on aggression inventories after they watched a violent film. Derne’s research (2000) indicated that men in India were more likely to express love to their wives after attending heroic romance movies. Although our study did report an increase in the means of the passion sections of the Triangular Theory of Love Scale, the results did not indicate statistically significant findings that would support the past research. To our surprise, participants scored significantly higher on the commitment and significantly lower on the intimacy sections of the TTLS after viewing the movie scene. One possible explanation for this could be that participants were more aware of the passion questions after the movie scene and did not want to seem shallow or overly hormonal, so, they purposely marked higher on scores for commitment than they did for passion or intimacy. Considering that Agape (on the LAS) is the counterpart to commitment (on the TTLS), one would suspect that Agape would receive the lowest scores after the movie. However, Agape scores were higher, although not significantly, after watching the movie scene. In fact, all of the scores on the LAS increased, and they did not correspond with the results from the TTLS. These findings suggest that there may be some problems concerning the validity of the LAS. In deciphering the present results, readers should realize that there were several limitations to this study. First, the sample consisted of 27 undergraduate females. Thus, it may be difficult to generalize the results to the average population. Second, a larger sample size would decrease the margin of error in the study. Third, the movie scene may not have been a strong enough manipulation; therefore, our study may have lacked the power needed to produce statistically significant results.Even though there were several limitations, this study exhibited several strengths. First, we used an experimental design instead of a correlational design in order to predict causality. Second, using the test/retest method allowed us to establish more accuracy in examining the change in love styles. Third, this study was one of the few studies that explored the relationship between romantic movies and love styles. This study attempted to indicate that the normal practice of going to the movies could influence the way individuals feel about love. We also hoped to support Tan’s theory (1996) that viewers experience an “emotional episode” during a movie that leads them to identify with a character and the emotions of that character. Results supporting these ideas would be beneficial in helping people establish a healthy relationship. Romantic movies depicting healthy relationships could be used in therapy to help avoidant and ambivalent individuals form secure attachment styles. Movies could also be used to help couples enhance areas of their relationship that have been lacking. While our research did not support our intended implications, future research should be done on this topic. To improve on our study, future researchers may want to use a larger sample size that includes men. This will strengthen the external validity of the study. Longer and more intense movie scenes should be used in order to increase the power of the study. It may even be beneficial to show an entire romantic movie. In this case, participants will be able to identify with a character and the character’s emotions and consequently, score significantly higher on the TTLS and lower on the LAS.

Bierhoff, H. W. (1991). Twenty years of research on love: Theory, results, and prospects for the future.The German Journal of Psychology, 15 (2), 95-117. [On-line] Available from WebSPIRS on-line database PsycINFO, Item 0705-5870 Black, S. L. & Bevan, S. (1992). This confirms that viewers of violent films have a higher level of aggressiveness to begin with, and that this is elevated following attendance of the film [Abstract]. Aggressive Behavior 18, (1), 37. Derne’, S. (2000). Movies, masculinity, and modernity: An ethnography of men’s film going in India. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. Hale, H. L., & Lemieux, R. (1999). Intimacy, passion, and commitment in young romantic relationships: Successfully measuring the triangular theory of love. Psychological Reports, 85, 497-503. Hendrick, C., & Hendrick, S. (1986). A relationship-specific version of the Love Attitudes Scale. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 50, 392-402. Sternberg, R. J. (1986). A triangular theory of love. Psychological Review, 93, 119-135. Sternberg, R. J. (1990). A visual image of love. [On-line] Available from the World Wide Web: http://www.familydynamics.net Tan, E. S. (1996). Emotion and the structure of narrative film: Film as an emotion machine. Mahwah, 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.



                      INFORMED CONSENT FORMPRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS:      Dr. John Cornwell                              Dr. Mukul Bhalla		              Tiffany Boveland				      Robyn MolineADDRESS 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 concept of love. I understand that I will be asked to answer some questions regardingmy 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 more than a total of 30-35 minutes each time.	Before giving my consent by signing this form, I have been sufficiently informed of thepurpose of the study and have had the opportunity to ask any questions of the principal investigatorregarding this study and my participation in this study.	I understand that my identity and all information relating to me will be kept in strictconfidence and that only the principal investigator will have knowledge of my identity. My name andsignature as they appear on the consent form will be seen only by the principal investigator. My datawill be assigned a code number which will not be associated with my name. As soon as the data arecollected, all raw data will be destroyed.	I understand that any public report of the results of this study will contain only summarizeddata, and will not contain any individual data.	I understand that I may withdraw my permission at any time and that I may telephone theprincipal investigator at the number given above or contact the investigator at the address given abovein 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 resultsand /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 formwillingly.PRINTED NAME: _________________ DATE: __________SIGNED NAME: __________________LOCAL ADDRESS:________________              ________________              ________________                                  _________________________________________________________________


 Please put three character code here _ _ _.Please take five minutes to provide us with the following information about yourself:1. Age _______ years2. Sex (circle one):	M	F3. Major _______4. Year (circle one):	FR	SO	JR	SR5. Race ______________6. How religious are you? (circle one):    Not religious    Somewhat religious    Moderately religious    Very religious7. Have you been in love? (circle one):	Yes 	No8. Would you know what love feels like? (circle one): Yes 	No



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).

I am actively supportive of ____ well being.I have a warm relationship with ____.I am able to count on ____ in times of need.____ is able to count on me in times of need.I am willing to share myself and my possessions with ____.I receive considerable emotional support from ____.I give considerable emotional support to ____.I communicate well with ____.I value ____ greatly in my life.I feel close to ____.I have a comfortable relationship with ____.I feel that I really understand ____.I feel that ____ really understands me.I feel that I really can trust ____.I share deeply personal information about myself with ____.Just seeing ____ excites me.I find myself thinking about ____ frequently during the day.My relationship with ____ is very romantic.I find ____ to be very personally attractive.I idealize ____.I cannot image another person making me as happy as ____ does.I would rather be with ____ than with anyone else.There is nothing more important to me than my relationship with ____.I especially like physical contact with ____.There is something almost “magical” about my relationship with ____.I adore ____.I cannot imagine my life without ____.My relationship with ____ is passionate.When I see romantic movies or read romantic books, I think of ____. I fantasize about ____.I know that I care about ____.I am committed to maintaining my relationship with ____.Because of my commitment to ____, I would not let other people come between us.I have confidence in the stability of my relationship with ____.I could not let anything get in the way of my commitment to ____.I expect my love for ____ to last for the rest of my life.I will always feel a strong responsibility for ____.I view my commitment with ____ as a solid one. I cannot imagine ending my relationship with ____.I .am certain of my love for ____.I review my relationship with ____ as permanent.I view my relationship with ____ as a good decision.I feel a sense of responsibility towards ____.I plan to continue my relationship with ____. Even when ____ is hard to get along with, I remain committed to our relationship.


                 HENDRICK’S LOVE ATTITUDES SCALEPlease rate the importance of each statement on a scale of 1 (strongly agree) to 5 (strongly disagree).My partner and I were attracted to each other immediately after we met.My partner and I have the right physical “chemistry” between us.I feel that my partner and I were meant for each other.My partner and I became physically involved very quickly.My partner fits my ideal standards of physical beauty/handsomeness.To be genuine, our love required caring for awhile.I expect to always be friends with my partner.Our love is the best kind because it grew out of a long friendship.Our love is really a deep friendship, not a mysterious, mystical emotion.Our love relationship is the most satisfying because it developed from a good friendship.I try to always help my partner through difficult times.I would rather suffer myself than let my partner suffer.I cannot be happy unless I place my partner’s happiness before mine.I am usually willing to sacrifice my own wishes too let my partner achieve his/hers.I would endure all things for the sake of my partner.


 Table 1

Differences Between Love Styles Before and After Watching a Romantic Movie Scene*

Before movie scene After movie sceneLove Test M SD M SD t pIntimacy 121.5556 12.055 118.3333 16.203 .24 .034Passion 98.1852 26.050 101.0000 27.872 -.88 .385Commitment 103.8148 24.355 108.6296 24.886 -2.28 .031Eros 12.4815 4.734 12.7407 4.346 -.29 .776Storage 11.1481 5.960 12.1852 6.102 -.72 .475Agape 13.3704 4.708 15.5185 4.467 -1.88 .071

Table 1 shows a comparison of love styles before and after watching a romantic movie scene. Passion, Eros, Storage, and Agape scores fail to support our hypothesis; however, significant findings are seen in Intimacy and Commitment scores.*df for all scores is 26

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