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How to get a man to enjoy a chick flick

Empathy, genders and a tear jerker

University of Alberta

Is there any way to get a man to savour a melodramatic, so-called 'chick flick"' It's possible, if he knows up front that the story is pure fiction, according to U of A School of Business Associate Professor Jennifer Argo.

"We looked at fact and fiction stories and found that if people have high empathy - usually women - they will enjoy a story more if it's based on fact," she said. "Conversely, people who are low in empathy, typically males, when you tell them in advance that it's fiction they'll enjoy it more. We think it's because it gives them an excuse to enjoy it. They let down their guards."


The study Fact or Fiction: An investigation of empathy differences in response to emotional melodramatic entertainment was co-authored with Rui Zhu and Darren W. Dahl of the University of British Columbia. It will be published in the February, 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research. The Journal publishes scholarly research that describes and explains consumer behavior, featuring empirical, theoretical, and methodological articles spanning the fields of psychology, marketing, sociology, economics, and anthropology.

Jennifer is at the forefront of a new research area, redirecting the field of consumer behavior toward understanding social influence.

The School of Business' research mission and strategic goal is to be "recognized through our teaching and research as among the top 1 percent of full-service, policy-shaping business schools globally." The School's research output as measured by the 2006 Financial Times of London (FT), the leading indicator of research excellence, places us 35th globally.

A School of Retailing was established in 2007 building on the strength of our related research, the 16-year foundation of the School of Business' Canadian Institute of Retailing and Services, the overwhelming demand by students and partners to expand offerings, and growing financial support of industry.

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