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Princess culture can heal toxic masculinity over time, BYU study says

A new study from BYU looks at how princess culture can heal toxic masculinity

SHARE Princess culture can heal toxic masculinity over time, BYU study says

Illustration by Alex Cochran, Deseret News

Disney princess culture might be a good thing for your child, according to a new study from BYU.

Researchers from BYU found that princess culture has made a positive impact on child development over time. In fact, children who engaged with princess culture were more likely to show positive attitudes toward women.

  • “While Disney is routinely criticized for elements of princess culture, these findings suggest that princesses may have a healing element that’s good for humanity,” BYU said in a statement sent to the Deseret News.

The BYU study — surveyed more than 300 children and their parents during the child’s preschool years and five years later — had a few major findings:

  • Children who engaged with princess culture had progressive attitudes towards women.
  • Children who embraced princess culture subscribed less to the attitudes of toxic masculinity — the cultural pressures men face to show “manliness” and show dominance, aggression and strength — as they reached their early adolescent years.
  • Girls who embraced princess culture “view educational opportunities, relationships, and careers as being equally important for women and men,” according to a BYU news release.
  • Boys who are exposed to princess culture often tend to express their emotions better in relationships, too, according to the study.

Why the princess culture study matters

BYU professor Sarah Coyne — who has previously focused on princess research — said princess culture can really impact children over time.

  • “As a developmental psychologist, I’m interested in looking at things over time,” said Coyne. “What’s fascinating is that princess culture has some really deep and beautiful things about womanhood and relationships. If we can grasp onto that, it can be truly healing for humanity.” 
  • “Princess culture gives women key storylines where they’re the protagonist. They’re following their dreams, helping those around them, and becoming individuals who aren’t prescribed a role because of their gender,” said Coyne, according to a BYU news release.