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The Effect of Media Consumption on the Perception of Romantic Relationships



Citation: Banjo, O.O. (2002). The effects of media consumption on the perception of romantic relationships. Penn State McNair Journal, 9, 9-33. In every interpersonal relationship, a social exchange takes place whereby people tend to balance their emotional investment in the relationship by constantly comparing their current relationship to their perceptions of what they deserve. Cultivation theory suggests that heavy consumption of media might create false schemas about ideal relationships, thereby creating false perceptions of what we deserve. Based on a survey of males and females (N = 108), this study sought to investigate the relationship between media consumption and our expectations from romantic relationships as well as our level of satisfaction in these relationships.
The Effect of Media Consumption on the Perception of
Romantic Relationships
Omotayo Banjo
Faculty Adviser: Dr. Shyam Sundar
Citation: Banjo, O.O. (2002). The effects of media consumption on the perception of
romantic relationships. Penn State McNair Journal, 9, 9-33.
In every interpersonal relationship, a social exchange takes place whereby people
tend to balance their emotional investment in the relationship by constantly comparing
their current relationship to their perceptions of what they deserve. Cultivation theory
suggests that heavy consumption of media might create false schemas about ideal
relationships, thereby creating false perceptions of what we deserve. Based on a survey
of males and females (N = 108), this study sought to investigate the relationship between
media consumption and our expectations from romantic relationships as well as our level
of satisfaction in these relationships.
Marital commitment can be a daunting thought for many people today. Some
choose to take on the challenge, while others prefer to embrace the single life. Those
who take the challenge often encounter major disappointments and can become very
unhappy and dissatisfied. Symptoms such as these usually result in parting by means of
The United States 2000 Census found that first marriages last about 7-8 years on
average before ending in divorce. Half of these first marriages are predicted to result in
divorce. Currently there is a 40% divorce rate in America meaning that 40% of
American married couples divorce every year. The Census also projects a 50% increase
in divorce within the next couple of years (Krieder & Fields, 2002, p. 3-5).
Divorce is no longer an act of heresy. It has become so common that most people
make marital commitments knowing the possibility of divorce. Census divorce rates
records from the 1800s indicate a significant increase in divorce from then until most
recently. What has changed in marital dynamics to provoke divorce and perhaps cultivate
failure in marriages? There are numerous theories as to why this is taking place within
the American culture. However, this study sought to look at the possibility of a
relationship between the consumption of mass media and people’s ideas about
commitment and romantic relationships. If we understand pre-marital perceptions,
perhaps we may get an idea of the kinds of beliefs people have when entering a marriage.
Many of the factors concerning failed marriages can be linked to the perceptions
of those entering marriage. Researchers have argued that one of the reasons for failed
marriages is that people often enter marriage with “unrealistic, idealistic, and
romanticized” ideas concerning marital commitment (Segrin & Nabi, 2002). Such
unrealistic expectations include “mind reading,” “destructive disagreements,” and “sexual
perfection” (Eidelson &Epstein, 1982). These beliefs suggest our expectations for our
partners to read our minds, always be agreeable, and perfectly satisfy our sexual needs.
The impression is that many single men and women hold several myths about marital
commitment and therefore have several unrealistic expectations of their significant
others. Larson (1988) stated that Americans expect their spouse “to simultaneously be a
friend, confidant, a fulfilling sex partner, counselor, and a parent” (p.4). Such
expectations are suggested to have led to the increase of divorce rates and unhappy
relationships. In Larson’s study, a group of college students were shown to have believed
about 47% of the myths presented to them in a Marriage Quiz.
Some researchers believe that many of the expectations may come from
romanticism. The idea is that the more romantic a person is the more unrealistic
expectations he or she will have concerning their mates. Studies have shown that people
who have greater romantic expectations have been found to be the most unhappy in
relationships (Larson, 1988). The reason for this unhappiness is due to romantics’
tendency to be too passionate about the idea of love and marriage (Ellis, 1963).
Another idea regarding unrealistic expectations is the socialization of genders.
Larson found that females believed less myths about marriage than males and suggest
that this was due to the fact that females from a young age are trained and prepared for
their marital roles while males are taught that marriage will occur naturally
(Larson,1988.) Other research has suggested that perhaps an individual’s attitude toward
relationships is influenced by their parents (Jones & Nelson, 1996).
Although relationships can be reviewed from many aspects, this study attempts to
study relationships from a social exchange perspective. The social exchange theory, also
referred to as the exchange theory, is one of the few perspectives that focus on
expectations and relationship satisfaction.
Social Exchange Theory
The social exchange theory looks at the social interaction between individuals in
relationships and groups. This theory has been used to study premarital relationships,
from choosing a mate to the decision to commit (Sprecher,1998). Social exchange is
dependent upon many related variables, such as equity, rewards, costs, and comparison
levels (Attridge & Berscheid,1994). The equity theory, derived from the exchange theory,
suggests that an individual’s satisfaction with a relationship is dependent on whether
there is a balance in the relationship. In this article, Attridge & Berscheid discussed
several barriers that have the potential to threaten the equity within a relationship. One
example given is that of a partner’s economic status. Income has been shown to become a
form of competition, especially if the female earns more. This is considered inequity and
can be harmful to the longevity of that relationship.
Rewards are considered to be what an individual enjoys most in the relationship.
The costs of a relationship include the missed opportunities to explore other potentially
better alternatives. Comparison levels are the expectations by which we measure our
partners (Sprecher, 1998). According to the concept of comparison levels, people tend to
measure their current relationships to the outcomes they expect or the goals they have set
(Ashmore, 1988). An individual’s satisfaction with his or her relationship is influenced
by how close the outcomes meet his or her expectations or goals. However, an
individual’s decision to make a lifelong commitment is not totally dependent on his or
her satisfaction, but also whether there is a better alternative (Attridge & Berscheid,
1994). Nonetheless, an individual may choose to stay in the relationship when he or she
considers his or her high investment, such as time and experience, in the relationship
(Sprecher, 1998).
More recent studies have researched exchange in regards to sexuality within
relationships. It has been shown that sexual satisfaction plays a major role in an
individual’s general personal satisfaction. Based on the equity theory, it is suspected that
if a person feels under-benefited in a relationship, they have an expectation for their
mates to do whatever they ask sexually. Studies have shown that in relationships where
one partner is reluctant to engage in sexual relations, he or she might succumb in order to
maintain the reward. Research has also shown that partners are likely to change their
habits either for better or worse depending on their sexual satisfaction. In exchange for
sexual dissatisfaction, people have also been shown to engage in affairs (Sprecher, 1998).
The exchange theory proposes that societal factors influence an individual’s
behavior and expectations in a relationship (Ashmore,1988). Research has already shown
that several environmental factors such as experience and family have a great deal to do
with our perceptions of what a romantic relationship should be. However, one factor
rarely considered is the exposure and consumption of media. This suggestion can be
traced back to Gerbner’s Cultivation theory, which implies that media exposure has great
potential to influence an individual’s perception of the real world. Initial research studied
violence, racism and gender stereotyping, but newer research embarks on studying
romantic relationships.
Cultivation Theory
The study of media effects attempts to investigate the influence of mass media
consumption on society. Its focus ranges from social norms to an individual’s
perception, beliefs, and attitudes about the world. Media content has become an issue
and concern for researchers in the social sciences as well as those who shape public
policy. For at least 30 years, researchers have been investigating the impact of television
on society (Shrum, Wyer & Oguinn, 1998). Many studies have shown some effect of
television on individual’s attitudes and beliefs, but the most salient of them was
Gerbner’s study of the perception of a mean world through viewing violence on
television. From this study, Gerbner formulated the cultivation theory (Gerbner, 1994).
Gerbner’s theory suggested that heavy viewers of television would have a
different sense of social reality compared to lighter viewers. Although the cultivation
theory initially investigated violence and crime, it has also been used to investigate other
factors that affect an individual’s perception of social reality (Segrin & Nabi, 2002).
Gerbner proposed that those who consumed more television would have more of a mean
world perspective than those who watched less. In this case, heavy viewers would be
more likely to believe that no one could be trusted and crimes are more prevalent than
they truly are (Gerbner, 1994).
Cultivation theory has also been used to investigate television influence on the
“portrayal of minorities, marital discord, affluence, and particular occupations such as
doctors, lawyers and police officer which occur with much greater frequency on
television than in the real world” (Shrum et al, 1998, p.448). Though bearing much
criticism, Gerbner’s theory has been accounted for the effect of television on
interpersonal mistrust as well as a false perception of divorce rates (Shrum et al, 1998).
Within the context of romantic relationships, cultivation theory implies that heavy
viewing of television or any other form of media cultivates some of the unrealistic beliefs
that people have while entering into marital commitment, ranging from perceptions of
sexuality to perceptions of marital expectations. Studies have shown that adolescents get
more sexual information from the mass media after friends and school (Brown, Steele,
Walsh-Childers, 2002). Brown (2002) suggests that the consumption of sexual media also
creates false assumptions for teens about sexual relationships.
Besides cultivating sexual behavior media have also been considered responsible
for the increase of eating disorders among our young teens. In Brown’s investigation of
sexual media and their effect on adolescents, she found that media set up a false standard
of beauty, which has had an effect on young teen eating habits (Brown et al, 2002).
Thus, driving them to attain unrealistic goal.
Very little research has been done on media as an influential factor in romance
relationships. The application of cultivation theory in this aspect would suggest that
heavy viewers of television would have a more fantasized view of relationship compared
to lighter viewers.
Looking at the social exchange perspective of relationships, we see that the
probability that people will stay in a relationship depends on their perceptions of what
they deserve. When related to the potential influence of media, one might consider that
perhaps the heavy consumption of media might create false perceptions of a romantic
relationship. Media is also suggested to have an influence on our sense of entitlement
(Attridge & Berscheid, 1994). He gives an example of a woman who consistently
watches shows where the husband is affectionate might become displeased with her own
husband’s lack of affection (Attridge & Berscheid, 1994). Could the lack of stability or
the lack of satisfaction in relationships be related to what we watch on television?
In their study, Segrin & Nabi (2002) focused on expectations about marriage and
marital intentions. Looking at television consumption, they found that those who watched
more romance television programming had perceptions that were more similar to the Eros
love style, which is a measure of passionate and sexual love. The study also showed that
people who watched more relationship-genre specific programming expected more
intimacy in their romance relationships. There was also significance between the
consumption of relationship-genre television shows and marital intention. However,
these predictions were not based on the hours of consumption, but rather on exposure to
the relationship-genre of TV programming. There was a negative association between
hours of television viewing and expectation. This factor challenges the cultivation theory
which is based on discrimination between heavy and light consumption of television
programming. Interestingly, they found that the more people associated TV with reality
the less their expectation for intimacy and their intent to marry.
Shapiro & Kroeger (1991) took this concept further than the previous study by
looking at television, movies, music, books, and magazines. This particular study aimed
to find any correlation between media consumption and unrealistic beliefs about romance
relationships. Again, they found a significant relationship between relationship genre
media and beliefs about romance relationships. The study indicated a significant
relationship between TV drama and action novels and the belief that disagreements are
unhealthy. There was also an unusual significance between viewers of news and
adventures and people’s beliefs about their partner’s ability to “read their minds”. The
study also found an interesting link between rock music and videos to their belief about
sexual perfection. This link was also found in those who read more psychology self-help
books, which are intended to increase communication skills in relationships, not sexual
relations. Shapiro and Kroeger also investigated the satisfaction of couples who held
these unrealistic beliefs and found that those who held these views were less satisfied in
their current relationships (Shapiro & Kroeger, 1991).
This study sought to find any correlation between the consumption of media and
people’s expectations of their ideal romantic relationships. Where most research
investigates television, this particular study will look at the television, print media, and
internet aspects of mass media.
According to cultivation theory, heavy viewers should have a more romanticized
perception of relationships than light viewers. However, other research has shown
positively correlated beliefs with genres of media as opposed to amount of media. Segrin
& Nabi’s (2002) investigation of marital expectations also looked at people’s tendency to
fantasize about marriage, which they termed fantasy rumination. Their study also
measured beliefs that correlated to idealistic marital and intimacy expectations. Based on
the cultivation theory and findings in Segrin & Nabi’s (2002) study, the following
hypotheses were proposed:
H1: The increase in media consumption is positively correlated with fantasy
H2: The increase in media consumption is positively correlated to idealistic
marital expectations
H3: The increase in media consumption is positively correlated to idealistic
intimacy expectations
According to social exchange theory, if the consumption of media is associated
with fantasized perceptions and expectations, people who hold these views will be less
satisfied in their relationships. While Shapiro & Kroeger’s (1991) study indicates a
negative association between relationship satisfaction, the empirical correlation was not
significant. This study sought to test this concept using a different population. Unlike the
other studies, we will also measure the level of trust and commitment of those who are
greatly exposed to any of the three forms of media. Cultivation theory suggests that
while media consumption may create false schemas of social reality, it may also
influence people’s perception of the world as a bad place. This is popularly knows as the
“mean world syndrome” (Gerbner, 1994). As this theory suggests, media may have some
influence on people’s perception of trust and commitment in romance relationships.
These influences could therefore potentially affect their relationship satisfaction. Under
these speculations, the following hypotheses may be stated:
H4: The increase in media consumption is negatively correlated with trust and
H5: The increase in media consumption negatively correlated to relationship
Study hypotheses were tested using a survey of college students and older adults.
People (n=108) who were on the University Park campus during the month of July, 2002
were randomly selected to fill out a questionnaire. They were asked if they had time to
help with summer research by taking a survey on media’s influence on people. Upon
agreement, participants were given a consent form and a questionnaire to complete. On
average, participants took 10-12 minutes to fill out the survey. Participants’ mean age
was 20.8 years (SD= 3.94). The pool consisted of 67 females and 41 males.
The questionnaire consisted of 6 open-ended questions, 1 closed-ended question
and 16 scales. Open-ended questions included questions that measured media use, while
others required numerical answers. For instance, one question asked, “On average how
many hours per day do you spend on the internet?” while another asked, “What
percentages of marriages in America end in divorce?” The two closed-ended questions
sought to find out a respondent’s current relationship status and direct marital intention.
Two of the 16 scales measured media use. Using a 10-point scale, participants were asked
to indicate the extent to which they regularly consume specified forms of media. One
scale measured the impact of how important emotional rewards, emotional costs, and
perceived comparison were in their relationships using a 10 point scale. Four of the
scales measured how reliable and how much attention participants paid to different forms
of media using the 10 point scale. The remaining 9 scales were taken from other
TV viewing scale: To better measure the amount of television consumed, participants
were ask to indicate how many hours of television they watched on average during
specified time frames (6am-noon, noon-6pm, 6pm-midnight, midnight-6am.)
Genre-Specific TV viewing: Segrin & Nabi (2002) created a 5 point scale to measure the
genre of television watched. Their scale included romantic comedies, soap operas,
daytime talk shows, and reality based shows about relationships. We were interested in
participants’ response to other genres, so we added primetime drama and late night talk
show to the scale.
Perceived TV Realism: Rubin’s perceived realism scale (1994) is a popular scale used in
communication research. This 5-item scale measured with a 5 point Likert scale was used
in this study as another measurement of media consumption. Items from this scale
include, “Television presents things as they really are in life,” and “Television lets me see
how other people live.”
Fantasy rumination: This scale was created by Segrin & Nabi (2002) to measure people’s
tendency to fantasize about marriage. It consisted of 4 items and was answered based on
a 5 point Likert scale. Sample items include “I often catch myself thinking about how
nice it would be to be married,” and “I often find myself talking about romantic
relationships.” One question was added to assess expectation: “I expect my lifelong
partner to be close to my fantasy.”
Idealistic Marital Expectation: This scale was used by Tornstam (1992) to measure
intimacy expectation but adapted by Segrin and Nabi to measure expectations about
marriage. One item was added to the five-item scale. Some items included ideas that “you
should be able to talk openly about everything,” and “you should know each other’s
innermost feelings.” To measure the unrealistic expectation of mind reading, we added
an item that suggested partners “should know how the other is feeling without either of
you expressing so.” While Segrin & Nabi (2002) used a 5-point Likert scale, the original
scale was measured on a 4 point Likert scale and was used in this study. Their revised
scale combined with our added item showed an internal consistency of .69.
Idealistic Intimacy Expectation: The Eros love style is a subscale taken from Hendricks
love attitude scales (Hendricks, 1986) and used to measure the unrealistic expectation of
sexual perfection. Four of the items of the 7-item scale were selected and modified to
measure expectations for this particular study. Samples from this scale include “our
lovemaking would be very intense and very satisfying” and “ I would feel that my partner
and I were meant for each other”. All items were measured on a 5 point Likert scale.
This scale had an internal consistency of .80.
Marital Tendency: Segrin & Nabi (2002) constructed a 7 item scale to measure a
person’s intention to marry. Four items out of this scale were selected to gain some
insight on people’s marital tendency. Some items included, “I would not get married
unless I was in love” and “When I get married I intend to stay married until my spouse
dies.” This scale was measured on a 5 -point Likert scale.
Trust and Commitment: Selected questions from three subscales of Stanley & Markman’s
(1992) Commitment Inventory Scale were used to measure people’s level of
commitment. A total of 9 items including “a marriage is a sacred bond between two
people which should not be broken,” “I know people whom I desire more than my
partner,” and “I usually do not have lifelong plans for my relationships” were among
those selected. Eight items including “I do not believe in having a committed
relationship,” “I expect to divorce at least once in this lifetime,” and “I believe infidelity
is inevitable” were created to measure people’s perception of trust and commitment as
well as their expectations of trust and commitment in a romantic relationship. Internal
consistency was .84.
Relationship Assessment Scale: Hendrick’s (1992) relationship assessment scale was
exclusive to the 44 respondents who were currently in relationships. The 4-item scale,
measured on a 7 point Likert scale, was used to measure a person’s satisfaction with their
relationship. Sample questions include “How good is your relationship compared to
most?” and “How well does your partner meet your needs?”
When we computed an item reliability of the Perceived TV Realism, Fantasy
Rumination, Idealistic Marital Expectations, Idealistic Intimacy Expectation,
Commitment Inventory, and Relationship Assessment scales we found that some of the
items were responsible for decreasing the reliability and therefore we deleted them in
order to maintain a satisfactory consistency. The Commitment inventory Scale was
combined with questions created to measure trust, which we labeled, “Trust &
Commitment” (Cronbach’s alpha: .84). Because the Relationships Assessment scale was
used to measure participant’s relationship satisfaction, we labeled it Relationship
Satisfaction (Cronbach’s alpha: .90)
When testing Hypotheses 1 we looked at various independent variables by fantasy
rumination and found some significant relationships. As predicted in H1, there was a
positive relationship between TV/Day and fantasy rumination (P <.10). Romantic
Comedies in particular showed a significant positive relationship with fantasy rumination
(P<.05). We checked for relationships between fantasy rumination and magazine
consumption and found a significant positive correlation between how much a people pay
attention to magazines as well as how much they trust in magazine love quizzes and
scales and their tendency to fantasize about romance. Interestingly, there was a negative
correlation between fantasy rumination and news reading (P<.10) which is inconsistent
with the suggestion that media consumption is positively correlated to fantasy
Consistent with Hypotheses 2, we found a positive relationship between people’s
trust in magazines and television and their idealistic marital expectations (P < .10).
Participants who also trusted in romance novels and the internet as a reliable source for
relationships were shown to have higher idealistic marital expectations. Those who
trusted the validity of love quizzes also showed a significant positive correlation to
participants’ tendency to have high marital expectations (P < .05).
A significant positive correlation was found between how much internet a person
used per day and his or her idealistic intimacy expectations. However when we controlled
for gender, the relationship between the two variables disappeared. Instead, we saw that
the prior relationship was taking place because the males in this study, who tended to use
the internet more than females, also showed higher intimacy expectations. Because males
scored higher on intimacy expectation, the data showed a significant negative correlation
between the consumption of soap opera and idealistic intimacy expectations. We also
found significant negative relationships between internet usage and Reality Shows and a
person’s trust in a magazines’ portrayal of relationships (P < .05). Due to these results,
hypothesis 3 was not supported by this sample.
As predicted by Hypothesis 4, participants’ trust and commitment showed a
negative correlation with the consumption of talk shows and reality shows about
relationships. Trust and commitment was also negatively correlated to the consumption
of news (P= .05).
Inconsistent with Hypothesis 5, our data showed a positive significant relationship
between relationship satisfaction and those who read entertainment. A positive
relationship was also shown for those who watched romantic comedies (p <.05). There
were no other significant relationships between any form of media consumption and
relationship satisfaction.
This study attempted to find any possible correlation between media consumption
and unrealistic expectations and perceptions about romantic relationships. Results from
this study indicate that contrary to cultivation theory, the sheer amount of media
consumption isn’t as good a predictor as the genre of media. Most of the unrealistic
expectations came from those who viewed more romantic comedies or paid more
attention to love quizzes in magazines. Though females consumed more of these forms
of media, the responses were not greatly different.
From this data it can be posited that the consumption of romantic comedies
increases a persons’ tendency to have dreamy ideas about relationships. These results are
similar to Segrin & Nabi’s findings and indicate a significant positive effect of media
consumption on perception. For instance, a person observing the chemistry between two
characters on television is likely to compare the chemistry in his or her relationship
perhaps when things aren’t going as well as he or she’d hope. The tendency to compare
in a relationship is not easy to avoid because people are constantly comparing the current
with some kind of expectation. One might argue that many people aren’t sure about what
they want out of relationships or are never content with their relationships because they
are unconsciously comparing it to something. This study suggests that perhaps they are
comparing it to the idealized expectations promoted by the romantic comedies they watch
or the love quizzes they take.
It looks like love scales and quizzes found in magazines have the potential to
increase a person’s marital expectations which is problematic being that most of the
advice or measures are not based on science and often presented for entertainment
purposes. We can say that those who read and trust in the content found in romance
novels or the internet tend to expect more from their romantic relationships. Romance
novels often present a fatuous image of intimate affairs. Therefore, one might argue that
those who consume these types of media have imprinted this image in their minds and
formulated a false perception of romantic relationships.
Talk shows often bare a lot of arguments and cases of infidelity or dishonesty. It
is to no surprise that those who consume more talk shows, whether daytime or night,
showed lower levels of trust and commitment. When internalizing conflict presented by
television, people have the tendency to store situations such as those in their memory
which can be unhealthy in a relationship. For instance, a person who totally trusts her
mate just finishes watching an episode of Ricky Lake where a partner cheated on his/her
spouse. The first reaction may not be to question her mate; however it would be fair to
say that if her mate showed traits characterized by the “real life” participants of a talk
show, the thought may cross her mind.
Though research has shown an association between media and romantic
perceptions, there is not enough empirical data to suggest causation. An alternative
interpretation would take into account the possibility of people using media to reinforce
their own beliefs. One could claim that those who are affected by romantic comedies are
helpless romantics. Because of their romantic tendencies, they view more romantic
comedies. Where there can be many interpretations of this data, it is more fair to say that
given the mechanisms of both the cultivation theory and social exchange theory media
probably has a greater effect on people than people have on the media.
Methodological Implications
A majority of the scales used in this study reached an alpha of .67 or more. Based
on our results we can see that overall the scales had good validity but they do hold
implications for future research. A ten-point scale was created to measure media
consumption using the genres found in Segrin & Nabi’s study. Two genres were added:
Primetime drama and late-night talk show. Combined, these items had a consistency of
.69, however if we deleted the late night talk show it increased to .72. This suggests that
the late-night talk show variable is not as effective an indicator for media influence on
perceptions. Also, late-night talk shows tend not to have as much romantic content as
primetime drama. While significant correlations were found in relation to levels of trust
and commitment, results did not show any positive correlations between unrealistic
expectations and late-night talk shows. Future research may consider investigating other
possible affects of late-night talk shows to see how they may possibly influence people’s
perception of reality.
One question added to the Idealistic Marital Expectation and did not greatly affect
or weaken the consistency of that scale. The Trust & Commitment scale was comprised
of the Commitment Inventory used by Stanley & Markman and the eight questions that
were created to measure trust and commitment. Together the scale yielded an internal
consistency of .83. Without the additional questions, the scale produced an alpha of .75.
Questions like, “I do not believe in having a committed relationship” and “I believe
infidelity is inevitable in relationships” were designed to accurately pinpoint participants’
views of commitment. One question, “I wouldn’t be surprised if my partner was having
an affair” attempted to accurately measure participants’ expectations of trust and
commitment within a romantic relationship. In general, the participants in this study had
average expectations of commitment in relationships. Given the internal consistency of
this scale it would be safe to say, that adding the eight questions actually enriched the
scale with none of the items working against one another.
Practical Implications
Given the census projection of a 50 % divorce rate, it would be safe to say that
marriages today are at risk. Many couples now enter marital commitment with either a
fear or expectancy of divorce. If divorce is a given option constantly in the back of
someone’s mind, self-fulfilling prophecy could easily take place.
Divorce has been shown to be harmful to more than just the parties of the divorce
but to children as well. Many children with behavioral issues come from broken homes.
Many people with trust and commitment issues also come from broken homes. In dealing
with relationships, whether intimate or distal, there must be an element of trust and
commitment. It must be understood that having relationships is healthy. They contribute
to our well-being. If we lack any of the important elements of relationships, our
relationships could become dysfunctional and maybe even detrimental to our health.
Results from this study suggest that one possible reason why people lack trust in a
relationship is due to their consumption of media. It also suggests that the exposure to
media has created a false perception of relationships, which either scares single people or
deceives couples. This study could be beneficial for marriage counselors who handle
cases of unhappy couples.
If people understood the potential effect of media on their everyday relationships,
perhaps they would not trust in love quizzes or scales as much. The comprehension of
relationship dynamics could improve the quality of romantic relationships when a person
understands that media doesn’t always capture reality. People could then look at their
cases as an individual case and make decisions based on the individual case and not
comparisons to a false depiction of romance. When people master this, perhaps divorce
rates would decrease due to people’s development of patience with their partners or
dating couples gaining a better understanding of marriage.
This study could also be beneficial to pre-marriage counseling. Before people get
married, they should be counseled on possible disappointments, and pre-exempt as many
unrealistic beliefs as possible. This could possibly increase marital quality as well.
Findings such as these have potential to be useful for individual and couple treatment
(Shapiro & Kroeger,1991).
The results from this study could also be useful for parents. Romantic
relationships are forming in pre-teens. One might wonder what a ten year old boy has to
offer his nine year-old girlfriend. While media can be targeted as the catalyst that
encourages romantic relationships, parents also have a responsibility in forming
perceptions. Parents should be aware of the impact of media consumption and attempt to
be good marital role models as well as explain to their children that television is not
Magazine writers and editors could be more conscious of their scales and quizzes
and perhaps seek professional measures. Another option is to make the reader aware that
the results of the scales are not necessarily valid. Television writers could hone the skill
of making reality entertaining, which is a tough task. However, media’s goal is to
entertain and not all reality is entertaining. Therefore, corrective educations (as in
promoting media literacy and critical viewing) are important.
While internally valid this study lacks external validity therefore the data are not
reflective of a solid population. Given that the mean age was 20.8 with a standard
deviation of 3.94, the sample was limited to the views of those in that age range. The
responses from a single 20 year old college student will of course bear some difference
with a married middle-aged person. This could be why relationship satisfaction had a
strange negative relationship. Many of the participants of this study have just begun
relationships or have not been together long enough to determine true satisfaction.
Another implication is that relationship satisfaction is better tested with long-time
committed or married couples. None of the participants except one in the sample had
been married and therefore this sample doesn’t appropriately measure relationship
satisfaction. It may be because of this factor, the relationships satisfaction hypotheses
was not supported and yielded contrary results.
In this study sample there were 67 females and 41 males. The inequity of the
male sample and female sample proportion allows for females to dominate the results of
this study. Therefore it does not adequately reflect general perspectives and beliefs for a
larger population.
Limitations to this study also include the lack of diversity in the sample. Given
that the majority of participants were Caucasian Americans and had university
affiliations, the results of this study cannot be generalized to all cultures. This study is
limited to and only reflects the viewpoints of those participants on the Pennsylvania State
University Park campus during the month of July, 2002.
Future Research
Due to the limitations of this study, further improvements can be made. Inquiries
such as the one this topic proposes would probably be more effective if a qualitative
approach were taken. There’s only so much that numbers can measure which limits
giving an appropriate measure for peoples’ perspectives. A qualitative approach could get
someone’s perspective through interviewing or doing a longitudinal development study.
By taking a qualitative approach, the researcher has a better chance of discovering the
stem of any hidden unrealistic expectations. A qualitative approach could also better
grasp the effect of these expectations on people’s relationships (including relationship
satisfaction) by observing their interactions. While quantitative measures attempt to
measure satisfaction, qualitative observations might reflect a more accurate interpretation
of the person’s level of satisfaction.
Future research on this topic could venture to look at family backgrounds. It is
quite possible that a person’s view of romance is heavily influenced by their family
environment. It would be interesting to see how much of a role family plays in shaping
our perceptions, compared to our consumption of media. Another idea would be to
inquire about television habits at a young age since our perceptions are often formed
then. Future research could also look at whether people enter marriages with high or low
expectations of marital longevity to test peoples’ trust in marital commitment.
Finally, this study did not take into account ethnicity. Potential research should
assess the relationship between media consumption and ideas about romance among
other cultures, and perhaps even more interestingly different age groups and sexual
It would be safe to say that though television appears to accurately portray reality,
it projects some misrepresentations of social reality. Some of these include, “more
violence than in real life, underrepresentation of women, minorities, the young and the
old, and exaggerated relationships” (Hawkins & Pingree, 1982). While the findings of
this study showed positive associations between media consumption and perceptions of
romantic relationships, future research could embark on strengthening the argument with
new ways and methods and better investigating the theoretical mechanisms underlying
these associations.
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Gender Male Female
Thank you for your time! Please make sure that you carefully read all the instructions
before answering any of the questions on this survey
1.On average how many hours per day do you watch television? ________
2.On average how many hours per day do you spend on the internet?_________
3. Please indicate the extent to which you regularly watch each of the following types
of television programs
Watch Watch
Very little A lot
Comedy . . . . . . . . . .
Soap . . . . . . . . . .
Daytime . . . . . . . . . .
Talk Show
Reality . . . . . . . . . .
Based about
(e.g wedding story)
Primetime . . . . . . . . . .
Late Night . . . . . . . . . .
Talk Shows
4. How many hours do you spend per day watching the following TV programming?
Romantic Comedies_____ Reality-based about relationships________
Soap Operas_____ Primetime Drama_______
Late Night Talk Shows_____
Genre-Specific TV Viewing
(Segrin & Nabi, 2002)
5. Please indicate how many hours of television you watch during each of the following
four time periods on an average weekday:
6 A.M-Noon; ____hrs Noon-6 P.M; _____hrs
6 P.M-Midnight; ______hrs Midnight-6 A.M; ______hrs
6. Indicate the extent to which you regularly read each of the following types of
Read Read
Very little A lot
News . . . . . . . . . .
Business . . . . . . . . . .
Gender- . . . . . . . . . .
Entertain- . . . . . . . . . .
(People, E!)
Perceived Realism Scale
(Rubin, 1994)
Here are some statements people may make about television. For each statement please
circle the number that best expresses your own feelings. If you strongly agree with a
statement circle 5. If you agree, a circle a 4. If you agree some and disagree some, circle
a 3. If you disagree, circle a 2. If you strongly disagree, circle a 1.
Television presents things as they really are in life
1 2 3 4 5
If I see something on TV, I can’t be really sure it really is that way
1 2 3 4 5
Television lets me really see how other people live
1 2 3 4 5
TV does not show life as it really is
1 2 3 4 5
Television lets me see what happens in other places as if I were really there.
1 2 3 4 5
7. Realistically how long do you expect your relationships to last?
________years __________mos
8. Do you expect your relationship to last until marital commitment? Yes No
9. Rate how each of the following combination of concepts characterizes your
perception of marriage:
Not Highly
At all Characteristic
Intimacy& . . . . . . . . . .
Passion& . . . . . . . . . .
Intimacy& . . . . . . . . . .
10. How likely do you believe each one is to appear in the beginning of a
Not Highly
At all Likely
Intimacy . . . . . . . . . .
Passion . . . . . . . . . .
Commitment . . . . . . . . . .
11. Rate how you much of an impact you feel the following has on the way you feel
about intimate relationships.
Emotional rewards
Very Little . . . . . . . . . . A lot
Impact Impact
Emotional costs
Very Little . . . . . . . . . . A lot
Impact Impact
Perceived Comparison
Very Little . . . . . . . . . . A lot
Impact Impact
Fantasy Rumination
(Segrin & Nabi,2002)
12. Please read the following statements and indicate your personal level of agreement
with each statement.(1= lowest level of agreement; 5=highest level of agreement)
I think my wedding day will be the happiest day of my life
1 2 3 4 5
I often catch myself thinking about how nice it would be to be married
1 2 3 4 5
I have put a lot of thought into what kind of wedding I would like to have
1 2 3 4 5
I often find myself talking about romantic relationships
1 2 3 4 5
I expect my lifelong partner to be close to my fantasy
1 2 3 4 5
Idealistic Marital Expectation
(Tornstam, 1992)
13. The following statements describe perceptions of an intimate relationship. Please
indicate how important each statement is to you by circling the numbers.
(1=unimportant;4=very important)
You should be able to trust each other completely
1 2 3 4
You should be able to talk openly about everything
1 2 3 4
You should have a feeling of mutual understanding
1 2 3 4
You should know each other’s innermost feelings
1 2 3 4
You should be really interested in each others problems
1 2 3 4
You should always be willing to make life and death sacrifices for each other
1 2 3 4
You should always know how the other is feeling without either of you expressing so
1 2 3 4
Idealisitic Intimacy Expectation
(Hendricks & Hendricks, 1984)
14.The following statements describe some general attitudes and beliefs about love.
Please indicate how strongly you personally disagree or agree with each of the following
statements. (1=strongly agree, 2=moderately agree,3=neutral, 4= moderately
disagree,5=strongly disagree)
My partner and I would be attracted to each other immediately after we met.
1 2 3 4 5
Our lovemaking would be very intense and satisfying
1 2 3 4 5
My partner would fit the ideal standards of physical beauty/handsomeness
1 2 3 4 5
I would feel that my partner and I were meant for each other
1 2 3 4 5
Commitment Inventory Scale (Adjusted)
(Stanley & Markman, 1992)
15.Please read the following statements about trust and commitment in relationships and
indicate how close each is similar to your perception of trust and commitment in
relationships. (1=strongly disagree,7=strongly agree)
Except when a spouse dies, marriage should be a once in a lifetime commitment
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
It is all right for a couple to get a divorce if their marriage is not working out
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
A marriage is a sacred bond between two people which should not be broken
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I want my relationship with my partner to stay strong no matter what we encounter
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I do not have life-long plans for my relationships
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I know people whom I desire more than my partner
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I am not seriously attracted to anyone other than my partner
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Though I would not want to end the relationship with my partner, I would like to have a
romantic/sexual relationship with someone other than my partner
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I think a lot about what it would be like to be married to (or dating) someone other than
my partner
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I do not believe in having a committed relationship
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I am currently looking to have a committed relationship
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I expect to have one committed relationship in this lifetime
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I expect to divorce at least once in this lifetime
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I don’t believe that anyone can have just one romantic companion for the duration of
their lives
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I trust my partner completely
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I wouldn’t be surprised if my partner was having an affair
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I would be extremely surprised if my partner was having an affair
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
I believe infidelity is inevitable in relationships
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
16. For each of the following media types rate how reliable each source is in giving
advice about relationships
Not Very
At all Reliable
Magazines . . . . . . . . . .
Internet . . . . . . . . . .
Television . . . . . . . . . .
Romance . . . . . . . . . .
17. For each of the following media types rate how representative each source is of
healthy relationships
Not Highly
At all Representative
Magazines . . . . . . . . . .
Internet . . . . . . . . . .
Television . . . . . . . . . .
Romance . . . . . . . . . .
18. Are you currently in a relationship? Yes No
Relationship Assessment Scale
(Hendricks, 1992)
If yes, please indicate the following
18a. How well does your partner meet your needs?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
In general, how satisfied are you with your relationship?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
How good is your relationship compared to most?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
To what extent has your relationship met your original expectations?
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
19.Do you intend to marry? Yes No
20. At what age do you expect to marry?_______
Marital Tendency
(Segrin & Nabi, 2002)
21. Please indicate whether or not agree or disagree with the following statements.
(1=strongly disagree,5=strongly agree)
I expect to be engaged or married within the next five years
1 2 3 4 5
I would not get married unless I was in love
1 2 3 4 5
When I get married, I intend to stay married until I or my spouse dies
1 2 3 4 5
When married, I expect to spend a lot of time with my spouse
1 2 3 4 5
... Within the framework of romantic relationships, cultivation theory implies that heavy viewers of television or any other form of media tends to cultivate some of the unlikely beliefs that people have while entering into dating or marital commitment, ranging from perceptions of sexuality to perceptions of marital expectations (Banjo, 2002). ...
This study investigated the influence of exposure to romantic films through digital platforms on romantic relationships. A sample size of 400 was drawn amongst among undergraduates in selected universities in Kwara State and used in the study. Findings indicated that most of the respondents are heavy viewers of romantic films. Finding also showed that there is no significant difference between the endorsement of romantic film ideals by light viewers and heavy viewers. In addition, gender does not determine the level of influence of romantic films on their romantic relationships. It was concluded that watching romantic films might have an influence on the attitude of viewers in their romantic relationships and most viewers of romantic films tend to endorse some of the romantic ideals portrayed in the films they have watched through digital platforms. The study recommended that there is a need for proper education among viewers of romantic films so as to avoid taking as real the relationship experiences from what they watch in romantic films.
... The above table shows that the use of ICT tools enhances teaching and learning of mathematics and improves students' problem- solving skills as 72% and 72.5% of mathematics teachers and students respectively do either agreed or strongly with Barjo [4] ...
Full-text available
This study actually investigated the role of ICT as a tool for effective teaching and learning of Mathematics in Secondary Schools. The purpose of this study was to explore students and mathematics teachers’ trainees’ use of ICT in the teaching and learning of mathematics. The study adopted survey research design and was conducted in Kafur Local Government Area of Katsina State. The target population was the entire students and mathematics teachers in Kafur Local Government. Five out of ten secondary schools in the area of study were randomly selected as a sample. The instrument used was questionnaires for both teachers and students. Simple percentage and chi-square were used to analyze the data. Among the findings are the use of ICT by students improved their performance, problem-solving skill and mathematics achievements. Some recommendations were equally made among which are; adequate and qualitative ITC materials and computer laboratories should be made available in all secondary schools.
“Entitlement,” according to the American Heritage Dictionary, is the “right to do or have something.” In a close relationship (CR), entitlement may be viewed as the kind of and quality of outcomes an individual believes he or she deserves to receive as a result of maintaining the relationship. Entitlement must be distinguished from the level of outcomes one expects to receive from the relationship, although in practice the two may be highly correlated, with most people no doubt expecting to receive what they deserve, given the widespread belief in a “just world” (Lerner & Lerner, 1981). The concept of entitlement directly engages social-exchange theory. For example, social-exchange theorists believe that knowledge of an individual’s comparison level is vital to understanding social relationships, including romantic relationships. An individual’s comparison level is the goodness-of-outcome level an individual believes he or she deserves in a specific relationship.
The 20-item Marriage Quiz was developed to measure students' beliefs in myths about marriage and family relations. A sample of 279 college students completed the Marriage Quiz. Female students missed significantly fewer items than male students. Students with a less romantic perception of marriage missed significantly fewer items than more romantic students. Students who completed a marriage and family course missed significantly fewer items than students who did not complete the course. The uses of the Marriage Quiz in family life education are outlined.
Earlier studies of loneliness have obtained quite confusing results about gender differences. This might be due to the fact that many earlier studies have used very limited and special samples. In the present study of 2795 representative Swedes, 15-80 years of age, it is found that there certainly is a gender difference in loneliness, but that this difference is restricted to married individuals between 20 and 49 years of age. Several possible explanations of this observation are tested, among them the assumption that women more willingly acknowledge their loneliness. This explanation is refuted by the fact that the gender difference in loneliness was not general but was restricted to a certain group of married respondents. Other hypotheses of the causes of the observed gender differences in loneliness are related to assumptions of women having higher expectations for intimacy in a relationship and women having lower self-esteem. Even if gender differences are shown to exist in these respects, they do not explain the observed gender differences in loneliness, neither do differences in the social networks of men and women. The results of the study cannot rule out the remaining explanation, that the observed gender differences in loneliness are due not to social-psychological factors, but to a more basic difference in which men and women react to the stresses and strains in a relationship.
Social Exchange Theory is one of the social science theories that have been applied to the study of human sexuality. This theoretical perspective is of particular relevance for understanding sexuality as it is negotiated between two people who have a relationship with each other. In this article, I describe three specific social exchange models with particular relevance to sexuality: equity theory (e.g., Walster, Walster, & Berscheid, 1978), the Investment Model (Rusbult, 1980, 1983), and the Interpersonal Model of Sexual Satisfaction (Lawrance & Byers, 1992, 1995). Then, I discuss how the general social exchange perspective or one of the more specific exchange models/theories has been applied to five topics that focus on sexuality within a relational context: (a) partner selection, (b) onset of sexual activity, (c) sexual satisfaction, (d) sexual initiation and refusal, and (e) extradyadic sexual behavior.
This study hypothesized that subjects who strongly endorse unrealistic beliefs about intimate relationships would score higher on a measure of exposure to popular romantic media than subjects who do not. The relationship between exposure to media and satisfaction with one's current intimate relationship was also explored. Results for the 109 adult subjects support the hypothesis (r=.18, p<.05). There was also a trend for married women who were more exposed to the popular romantic media to be less satisfied with their current intimate relationships (r=− .26, p<.10). These results would seem to have significant psychological and social implications.
Forty-seven marital therapy couples completed inventories measuring unrealistic beliefs about self and unrealistic beliefs about marital relationships. In addition, they completed questionnaire measures of their expectations and goals for therapy and their levels of marital satisfaction. As hypothesized, the clients' unrealistic beliefs, particularly those regarding relationships, were negatively associated with their estimated chance for improvement in therapy, desire to improve rather than terminate the relationship, preference for marital versus individually oriented treatment, and overall marital satisfaction. These results are consistent with the theoretical rationale for cognitive therapy with clinical couples and suggest specific targets for intervention in this process. Directions for future research are discussed.
A model for conceptualizing relationship commitment is presented and the development of a measure corresponding to this model described. Commitment is considered as two constructs: personal dedication and constraint commitment. In study one, items developed for the Commitment Inventory (CI) were given to a sample of 141 subjects. Item analyses resulted in selection of the items for the inventory. In study two, 279 subjects yielded data used in further testing of the CI. Tests were conducted on the reliability of the subscales, the factor structure of the CI, and the associations between the CI and various other measures of commitment. Further, the CI was examined in relation to various demographic variables and various measures of other relationship constructs. Overall, the research demonstrated that the CI shows promise as a reliable and valid instrument for measuring commitment. Implications are discussed for both the CI and the concept of commitment.