Romantic comedies encourage female viewers to tolerate stalking, study finds

Films in experiment included 'There's Something About Mary'

A new study has found that women who watch romantic comedy films (so called ‘romcoms’) are more likely to tolerate stalking and obsessiveness from prospective partners.

The Guardian reports the findings of a new report from gender and sexuality expert Julia R Lippman of the University of Michigan.

Lippman’s study, titled ‘I Did It Because I Never Stopped Loving You’, examined women’s responses to six separate films and whether it reflected their belief in ‘stalking myths’.

“After watching excerpts from one of these six films, participants completed a series of survey measures, including one that assessed their endorsement of stalking myths,” Lippman said.

“Stalking myths are false or exaggerated beliefs about stalking that minimise its seriousness, which means that someone who more strongly endorses these tends to take stalking less seriously.”

Lippman said that romcoms that showed such acts as supposedly romantic made viewers more likely to tolerate such actions in real life.

“[Romcoms] can encourage women to discount their instincts,” Lippman told Canada’s Global News. “This is a problem because research shows that instincts can serve as powerful cues to help keep us safe.”

“At their core, all these films are trading in the ‘love conquers all’ myth. Even though, of course, it doesn’t. Love is great, but so is respect for other people.”

Films in the study included There’s Something About Mary, Management, Sleeping With The Enemy and Enough.