A new study from Albion College has found that the more an individual believed in television portrayals of romance, the less likely they were to be committed to their relationships. As Dr. Jeremy, the article’s author said, “In this study, I found that people who believe the unrealistic portrayals on TV are actually less committed to their spouses and think their alternatives to their spouse are relatively attractive.”
Over 390 married couples participated in the study, and the participants responded to questions about their satisfaction with their current romantic relationship, relationship expectations, relationship commitment, belief in television portrayals of romantic relationships, viewing frequency, and several others that focused on their spousal relationship. The research also discovered that the more an individual believed in television romance, the higher the people believed their relationship costs were. Relationship costs include a person’s loss of personal freedom, loss of time, or their partner’s unattractive qualities.
As Dr. Jeremy pointed out, it’s critical that we take a step back and try to identify whether the expectations we have on our spouse are realistic. Where do our expectations come from? How are our TV-viewing habits impacting our kids?
Just as the content that we take in as adults impacts our expectations, habits and thoughts, we have to remember that our kids are even more impressionable. We can’t leave our kids education about sex, relationships and marriage up to popular culture, yet, when we allow our kids to have unfiltered Internet access and unregulated TV access, we’re doing just that. I would strongly encourage us all to think through the example we are setting for our children regarding media’s impact on our lives. Additionally, I would keep TVs out of kids’ bedrooms. Also, consider watching TV as a family rather than individually and then having discussions regarding what happened between the show’s characters—this can help to encourage active, critical thinking while watching TV, rather than (what we often do) passively accepting the narratives we view as facts.