"Someday my Prince Will Come": A Mixed-Methods Analysis of Gender and Romantic Relationships in Selected Feature-Length Disney Animated Films from 1937-2007

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Media Studies


Brad Gorham

Subject Categories

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Through its animated films, the Disney Company presents definitions of gender to both children and adults. In addition to gender representation, romantic Disney films thread love and the quest for romantic relationships throughout the story. Given that minimal research exists on the portrayal of romantic relationships and its correlation to gender, the purpose was to study stereotypical actions of female characters; gender differences in verbally and nonverbally communicating love and its importance; and ultimately a character's transformation as the result of the attainment of a romantic relationship. This study employed a mixed-methods approach. A content analysis of 12 romantic Disney animated films was used to explore the portrayals of love dependent upon gender and time. Qualitative analysis was used to further explore love's relationship to the portrayal of stereotypical actions, and characters' goals such as domesticity. While none of the hypotheses yielded statistical support, an examination of descriptive data does illustrate trends consistent with prior research and in support of the hypotheses. A qualitative analysis of Cinderella and The Little Mermaid enriches these findings.


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