They were asked to identify the names of authors who specialised in seven different genres - classics, contemporary literary fiction, romance, fantasy, sci-fi, thriller and horror.
Once they had done that, the subjects were then asked to respond to a series of beliefs about romantic relationships, which could be perceived as unrealistic and unhelpful.
They were listed as follows:
Disagreement is destructive; mind reading is expected; romantic partners cannot change; the sexes are different; and the expectation of sexual perfection.
When studying the results, the researchers noticed that people who were more familiar with romantic fiction were more likely to believe in just one of the aforementioned beliefs that sexes are fundamentally different.
Readers who were familiar with classics also identified, on average, that just one of those statements were true; that disagreement was destructive.
However, sci-fi and fantasy readers were less likely to believe in all but one of the myths - all except the one about sexual perfectionism.
In the notes of the study, the researchers write:
Science fiction/fantasy readers were also less likely to support the belief that disagreement is destructive, as well as the belief that partners cannot change, the belief that sexes are different, and the belief that mind reading is expected in relationships.
In conclusion, Stern and her colleagues conceded that their results don't necessarily indicate that readers of Harry Potter or Game of Thrones would be better in relationships but may have more grounded ideals of what romance should be.
Previous studies have also found that sci-fi fans have a more open-minded approach to morality, which may come from their appreciation of the genre.
A 2017 study, published by PsycNetnoted that because characters in these stories commonly come to realise their powers or purpose over the course of a quest that they begin to have a better understanding of "the human capacity for change" and therefore can apply it to their own partners.