Researching Love and Romance in Films: Analysis of Text

‘From Love at First Sight to Soul Mate: The Influence of Romantic Ideals in Popular Films on Young People’s Beliefs about Relationships.’ – Veronica Hefner and Barbara J. Wilson.

I have chosen to analyse this research article because of it’s relevance to my own research task that I will be conducting in a group regarding; the influence of romantic films throughout time and how they’re shaped societies views on romance, using three popular films from their corresponding decade, An Affair To Remember (1950’s), Dirty Dancing (1980’s) and Friends With Benefits (2010’s).

Popular Romantic Comedy Films
Popular Romantic Comedy Films

This text aims to ‘investigate content of romantic comedy movies and the effects they may have on viewers and the consequences of holding romantic ideals.’ The authors of this research are Veronica Hefner and Barbara J. Wilson. Hefner is an associate professor from the department of communication studies at Chapman University, California. Wilson has a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a professor Professor of communications at the University of Illinois. ‘Her areas of expertise include the social and psychological effects of the media, particularly on youth.’ Together, Hefner and Wilson are experienced and experts in their field

Their intended audience appears to be youth who watch romantic comedies (primarily females) and I am most definitely included in their target audience. Being a hopeless romantic and having seen countless romantic comedies, I am perhaps someone who holds these unrealistic ideals.

As this text is a research based, the authors are quite objective which is crucial to unbiased and accurate results. Hefner and Wilson carried out content analysis of ‘the 52 highest grossing romantic comedies from 1998-2008’ (pg. 154). Content analysis is an easy methodology to use as it is ‘unobtrusive,’ ‘provides valuable historical or cultural insights’ (, 2015), and can address ideas not previously considered by researchers. However, content analysis can be extremely time consuming, with Hefner and Wilson analysing over 93 hours of film (pg. 157). They also surveyed 335 undergraduates (pg. 150),

In their introduction whilst Hefner and Wilson are explaining the importance of analysing films (pg. 152) and the idea that media can ‘cultivate unrealistic and idealistic expectations’ (pg. 151), they acknowledge dozens of previous surveys, interviews and research projects conducted by other scholars, yet also highlight the unique points of their research and its significance. In their discussion, they address that their research is the ‘first of its kind to investigate an association between movie exposure and romantic beliefs’ (pg. 171), which expands on Robin L. Nabi’s research on romantic influence on audience through television. There is also three pages of references neatly incorporated throughout their paper which supports their findings and conclusion (pg. 172-5).

By analysing Hefner and Wilson’s research paper, it has helped establish ideas and further research ideas I can use for my personal investigation.

Further Reading

Nabi’s Research:


Hefner, V. Wilson, B. J. 2011, From love at first sight to soul mate: Romantic ideals in popular films and their association with young people’s beliefs about relationships, ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing, accessed 14th March 2015,


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