Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Robert Steele

Major

Psychology

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This thesis investigates the allure of the so-called “bad boy.” While much of the existing research reflects an evolutionary psychology approach, this thesis will explore how cultural messages promulgated by the media abet the fascination with the “bad boy.” Methodology includes extensive analysis of three iconic narratives – Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, and E. L. James’s Fifty Shades of Grey – all of which portray the hackneyed “bad boy”/“good girl” trope. This thesis finds that, in accordance with Gerber’s Cultivation Theory and Bandura’s Social Learning Theory, the media normalizes and glamorizes abusive relationships. Furthermore, the media promotes the misguided notions that true love must be painful and that the “right” woman can change her malicious “bad boy” into a devoted gentleman. Finally, this thesis concludes that the algorithmic myth is self-sustaining because it exploits and validates the wishful thinking that “this time is different.”

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