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Study: Real Men Like Chick Flicks
February 5, 2007

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Men, did you get fired up by "Fried Green Tomatoes?"

Did you shed a tear over "Sweet Home Alabama?"

Did you tell your buds to go see "Beaches?"

More times than I can possibly count, I've heard friends complain about their wives or girlfriends dragging them off to see the latest chick flick.

You know, the kind of movie that involves mother-daughter angst juxtaposed with budding romance. Or the one that draws you into the lives of five high school gal pals who maintain their friendship over the years and then one gets hit with some kind of terminal disease and dies.

Typically, in these kinds of films there's a lot of dialogue but not much in the way of action, suspense or car chases; unless, of course, it involves a runaway bride who leaves her preppie fiancé at the altar and flees with the funny, tenderhearted Albertson's bag boy.

Noticeably absent are the scenes that male moviegoers crave almost as much as the brawl at the end of an NBA game. But apparently, according to research conducted by a professor of psychology at Kansas State University with the famous actor name of Richard Harris, chick movies don't just warm the hearts of women.

They tickle the fancy of macho guys, too.

"Everyone thinks that women like romantic movies and that they drag guys along to them," Harris explains. "What was significant [from Harris's research] was that the guys also liked the movies, and that the choice to view a romantic movie was usually made together as a couple, not just by the girl."

Harris invited 125 couples to have a chaperoned research date in which they took in a romantic movie together. Afterward the couples rated the experience and answered some revealing questions. The professor asked them to rate the film from 1 to 7, 7 being the highest.

Women gave the subject film about a 6 (the rough equivalent of an 86 percent likeability rating) and men rated it a higher than expected 4.8 (the rough equivalent of a 70 percent likeability rating).

The participants were then asked to rate how much pleasure they thought their dates took away from the film.

According to the results of the study, both genders expected that women would favor romance-laden flicks, and conversely, that men wouldn't be keen on such films.

"When we asked both men and women how men in general would like the movie, both said that men would not like the movie," Harris states.

The study asked both males and females to guess which scenes from the film they thought their dates would prefer to portray. Most women selected a romantic scene for themselves to act in but predicted that their male counterparts would pick a scene of a different sort.

"Men fell back on the stereotype that women love romance, and women did the same thing by thinking that men would be more interested in a sex scene," Harris explains.

Have men mistakenly been typecast by Hollywood? Harris thinks so.

He advises movie execs to chuck stereotypes about chick flicks. He asks the entertainment industry not to "write off the male audience just because it is a romantic film." He even suggests "marketing to the men in the audience."

If Hollywood takes Harris's advice to heart, I guess we'll have to prepare ourselves for chick flicks for dudes.

Why do I have this overwhelming urge right now to go rent "Dirty Harry?"

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Copyright © 2007
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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