Recent BYU study explores influence of Disney princesses on young girls


Much has been said about the influence of Disney princesses on young girls, but did anyone ask the young girls themselves? That is what a group of Brigham Young University professors and students set out to do in a recent research study. A Deseret News article published on Monday explores the findings of the study.

“We started looking at the literature that was out there on the Disney princesses, and it was all pretty much critical analysis,” Tom Robinson, a BYU School of Communications professor who was involved with the study, told Deseret News. “But there was no real data to show how young girls felt about the Disney princesses. . . . It’s more what adults think is going on and how young girls are being affected by it.”

As researchers utilized a Q-Methodology, the findings were quite different than the aforementioned critics have concluded. The study involved 31 preadolescent girls (ages 8–12) and findings were broken up into four reasons the girls are drawn to or resonate with Disney princesses. The researchers found that the attraction has little do with appearance. Instead, the girls like the princesses’ positive personality attributes as well as their confidence and strength. The girls aspire to have a better life for themselves and the Disney princesses give them something to dream about, and of course, the girls like the idea of royalty.

As one 10-year-old told researchers, “They have a lot in common with me, like how there’s one princess (Anna), her sister would ignore her, and sometimes I get bullied at school, and it makes me learn about myself and how much I have in common with princesses. They inspire me. I want to go on a lot of adventures like them . . . see where the world takes me, and where my future takes me.”

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In the end, the researchers concluded that “overall, this study indicates that preadolescent girls do not take the princesses at face value and recognized the actions and behaviors of the princesses first. They see beyond the physical attributes of the princesses and understand they do not have to be beautiful to be confident and kind to others.”

Read more about the study on

Lead Image: YouTube screenshot

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