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Title: An experimental study of the influence of social background and political opinion on literary preferences
Author: Ansari, A. M. M. A.
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1954
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A survey of some relevant researches showed that aesthetic appreciation has generally Been studied either in terms of individual psychology or in relation to a standard determined by so-called 'art experts'˙ Neither of these approaches gave due consideration to the social aspect of aesthetic experience. It was concluded that in order to explore this aspect, the problem of literary preferences could profitably be studied in a social psychological context. The hypothesis which the present investigation proposed to test was that literary appreciation and preference, though highly individual in their nature, are influenced by two important social factors, namely, social background and political opinion, both being related to social values and attitudes˙ An experiment was devised for this purpose, consisting of sixteen poems (most of which were selected by four groups of people, two with contrasting social backgrounds and the other two with contrasting political outlooks), a preference scale on which the poems were to be rated, and a questionnaire regarding the raters' social background and political opinion˙ The raters were also to give their comments on each poem. Ratings and comments were obtained from a total number of 212 subjects, out of whom 164 completed the political opinion tests included in the questionnaire˙ The subjects were classified into three social groups according to the types of their occupations and each group was again divided into political sub-groups on the basis of the subjects' political affiliations. Analysis of variance was applied to the ratings of the sixteen poems taken together as well as separately in order to see if the three social groups differed significantly in their preferences. To study the relation between political opinion and literary preferences, correlation coefficients between political opinion scores and the ratings of each poem were calculated and their statistical significance determined˙ The mean ratings of different social groups and political sub-groups for the sixteen poems were compared and contrasted and were represented graphically˙ To Interpret the differences among social groups as well as political sub-groups within them, a qualitative analysis of the comments was made with special reference to the social attitudes and literary values of the subjects in different groups on the one hand, and the theme and the style of each poem on the other. The results of the experiment suggest that social background and political opinion, which involve certain attitudes and values on the part of the subjects, influence their preferences for certain types of poems, mainly in relation to the ideas, attitudes and sentiments expressed in them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social Psychology