Entries in movies (18)


Why Do We Watch Romantic Movies During Winter Storms?

If you are currently in the Northeast United States, you are probably still dealing with the aftereffects of Jonas, our most recent (and for many of us) first snowstorm of the winter. While some of us braved the weather to walk our dogs, dig out our cars, or make an emergency trip to the store to pick up the milk we forgot to buy in the days leading up to the storm, the rest of us probably stayed warm indoors and watched TV. After texting my friends to discuss their snowpocalypse plans, I found out that many, like me, were watching movies. Specifically romantic movies. Was this all just a pre-Valentine’s Day coincidence? The answer to this question may be found by considering research on embodied cognition.

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Should You Go See the Fifty Shades of Grey Movie for Valentine’s Day?

Dubbed an “erotic fiction” and “mommy porn,” the Fifty Shades books are among the top selling novels of all time. In fact, worldwide sales are said to be over 100 million, and at its height one of these provocative page-turners was being sold every second.1 Given the popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey, it is no wonder that the geniuses in Hollywood are planning to cash in on the “feels so good to be bad” phenomenon this Valentine’s Day. Of course, the question remains, should you go see this movie?

If you are like my sister, then you have already answered with a resounding, “Yes!” Of course, it is likely prudent to consider how this deliciously salacious movie may impact your relationship, for better or worse.

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Feeling Cold? How About a Romance Movie?

Feeling cold increases people’s liking and willingness to pay for romance movies but not other movie genres (i.e., action, comedy, thriller). Researchers thought this was because physical coldness activates a need for psychological warmth, a feeling often associated with romance movies. Indeed, the more individuals associated romance movies in general with psychological warmth, the more they reported liking romance movies – but only when they felt cold. So if you’re going to watch a romance movie this Valentine’s Day, be sure to turn down the heat for a heartwarming experience. 

Hong, J., & Sun, Y. (2012). Warm it up with love: The effect of physical coldness on liking of romance movies. Journal of Consumer Research, 39(2), 293-306. doi:10.1086/662613


Love in “The Hunger Games”: Why Katniss Falls for Peeta

I’m completely obsessed with The Hunger Games. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I have visited North Korea, a real country where millions of people really are dying of hunger. Maybe it’s the ironic meta-experience of watching the movie’s violence on a huge screen, when the movie’s point is that people shouldn’t watch violence on a huge screen. Regardless, The Hunger Games is chock-full of possible psychological analysis. Today I’m focusing on the fascinatingly weird emotions that spark between the The Hunger Games’ two main protagonists, Peeta and Katniss.

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10 Things that TV and Movies Teach Us about Relationships

My mom used to say that watching TV would “rot your brain.” While I think she was probably right (fun fact: moms are always right), on occasion TV and movies can teach us a thing or two about our relationships. Here are ten relationship lessons that the writers at ScienceofRelationships.com have culled from TV shows and movies like Twilight, Mad Men, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory and many others:

1. Expose Yourself, Get Liked

In this case, “expose” means that you should be in close proximity so that the person sees you and can interact with you (so please keep your pants on). On How I Met Your Mother, Barney describes this idea in his “Mermaid Theory.” Read more here.

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Monkey See, Monkey Do (and by “Do” We Mean “Have Sex”)

Recently, we reviewed research that indicates portrayals of sex in pop culture (e.g., movies, TV) influence young adults’ attitudes toward sex and “hookup” behavior. Soon-to-be-published research1 in the journal Psychological Science has more to add on the topic. Researchers surveyed over 1200 adolescents aged 12-14 throughout the U.S. by telephone and followed their sexual activity over a period of about 6 years. They found that more exposure to sex in popular movies (e.g., American Pie) at a young age (before 16) was associated with an earlier “sexual debut.” In other words, the more teens were exposed to sex in movies, the younger they were when they first started having sex.

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No Really, You're So Money and You Don't Even Know It!

I don’t want to oversell this, but Swingers is one of the greatest movies of all time! I was recently re-watching this classic and realized that not only is it hilarious, but it is also a storehouse for some pretty sage relationship advice. Seriously, how else would we know that the industry standard for a callback is three days (“two's enough not to look anxious, but three days is kind of money”) or that no matter how much you want them to, ex-partners won’t come back until you really forget them?

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Redbox and the Most Romantic City in the United States

I was both surprised and pleased to learn that I am living in the most romantic city in America! Where is this love utopia, you ask? It’s none other than Greensboro, North Carolina. 

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Attachment Styles at Hogwarts: Love in Harry Potter’s World

Like in any boarding school teeming with youngsters, Hogwarts is overflowing with raging hormones. Our three main characters (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) go through not just the angst of trying to defeat He Who Must Not Be Named; they are also trying to reign in the power of their own attraction to each other. We can better understand their failures and successes by viewing each of these characters through the lens of attachment theory, one of the most popular perspectives on romantic relationships.

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Bridesmaids and the Changing Role of the Bachelorette Party

The movie Bridesmaids opened this weekend and its raucous hilarity departs from the standard female-led romantic comedy – it rivals the bawdy glory of Old School, Wedding Crashers, and The Hangover. Although not all women’s pre-wedding events resemble the movie (which is probably a good thing), Bridesmaids demonstrates that women too can be profane and outrageous and get laughs for it, and reminds me that roles for women have shifted, not just in romantic comedies but as bridesmaids in real life.

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Education Matters, Even for Hollywood Couples

We recently discussed the role of similarity (vs. opposites) in attraction; here's an interesting and very specific application of the similarity principle. It turns out that Hollywood stars tend to marry other stars with a similar education level. Anyone know where Dr. Dre's wife got her Ph.D.?

More on this effect here.


Scream 4: A Good Date Movie?

You're going on a date this weekend and you want to see a movie, but which movie should you go to?  You might think that going to see a romantic movie would be the most likely way to make some sparks fly between you and your date, but according to research Scream 4 is likely the better choice. It may seem odd, but there’s good reason to expect that watching a horror movie could increase attraction between partners.

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127 Hours and Attachment Theory: Stuck between a Rock and an Ex-Partner

Aron Ralston is a man defined by his independence, both as described by others and as portrayed by a recent Oscar-nominated film. His passion is in exploring new and challenging terrain, and his pride is in accomplishing his feats completely solo. Yet when Aron finds himself in a situation that is unavoidably distressing (becoming trapped under a rock with little food and water), his permeating thoughts are not about his independent experiences or ambitions, but rather his relationships with the close people in his life.

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All the Best Lines are Taken


“I Would Die for Ya Baby”: Why People Make Sacrifices for Their Relationships 

In Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series, Bella offers to give up her human life to become a vampire in order be with her 104-year-old vampire boyfriend, Edward, forever. This ultimate sacrifice, driven by “true love,” is only one of many types of sacrifices that people make on an everyday basis for their intimate relationships. Relationship scientists refer to these behaviors as “willingness to sacrifice," and they can run the gamut from minor and short term inconveniences, such as having to go to your partner’s work party on Friday night when you would rather stay home and watch The Bachelor on TV, to much more substantial or long-term sacrifices, such as jumping in front of a train to save your partner’s life.

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Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, and Love at First Sight

Countless books, songs, and movies have rapturously portrayed the idea that you might one day look across the room, lock eyes with a stranger, and know instantly that you two are meant to be together forever. This phenomenon is portrayed in the movie The Adjustment Bureau in which Matt Damon’s character meets Emily Blunt’s character briefly in a bathroom and is thereafter willing to defy scary men in suits who control the world in order to be with her. 

So what does science have to say about love at first sight?

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Marriage Satisfaction: Is It Now the "3-year-glitch"?

Recently, there has been an explosion of news stories about that seem to suggest that in today’s fast-paced world couples are getting sick of each other even faster. Namely the 7-year-itch is now a “3-year-glitch.” Interestingly, the study was funded by Warner Bros. and timed to be released with the movie Hall Pass.

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Hall Pass: She's Hot...Well, Maybe Not


This isn't just a movie preview, it is also a great example of relationship science. In the trailer for the new movie Hall Pass, the guys are out at a club when they see a seemingly attractive woman (@2:14 in the clip). Jason Sudeikis’ character Fred gestures to a group of women and says “tall blonde, right here.” Another guy then points out “she surrounds herself with less attractive women to make her look like a 10.” This same guy goes on to demonstrate this idea by putting his hands up to frame the whole group, “hot…” Next, he moves his hands so that you can’t see the blonde’s friends and says “not…” as you see the woman get visibly less attractive. Fred: “that’s amazing, you’re like a Beautiful Mind.”

This is a fantastic example of the contrast effect.

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