The Experimental Psychology of Beauty

By C. W. Valentine | Go to book overview

Summary of the Wrexham experiment results

Several general conclusions may be drawn from these reports.

First, so far from there being signs of a substantial revulsion against these modern poems, there is a widespread tendency to like at least two of them. We must recall that these students had had a special introduction to modern poetry in their lectures and had indeed collected small anthologies of their own.

Second, some may suspect that students might suppose that their lecturer liked these poems (having selected them) and so they might have been influenced by suggestion or wanted to say "the right thing". This, however, did not have an overwhelming influence on them, for among the 38 students, only 3 said they liked every poem, while 8 said they disliked some poem "very much" or "slightly" and 10 found themselves "indifferent". Other signs of honest judgement have been mentioned above.

Third, as with the Birmingham graduates, the students are not divisible into two clearly distinguishable groups -- those who like these modern poems and those who dislike them. Thus of the three students who disliked some poem very much, two liked another poem very much, and the other liked the other two poems slightly. Even the least appreciative student, who disliked one poem "slightly" and was indifferent to another, nevertheless liked the third poem "very much". There is indeed only a gradual change from the most to the least appreciative.

Fourth, the varying effects of the different poems also appear. On the average (for both groups) the Northumbrian Farm is somewhat more popular than the Intimations of Mortality: while much the lowest average score is that for Edith Sitwell Still Falls the Rain.

Lastly as to elements of beauty, the Wrexham students mention these far more frequently than do the Birmingham graduates. But they do discriminate between different poems' thus 34 out of 38 find some element of beauty in Northumbrian Farm, but only 17 out of the 38 find one in Intimations of Mortality: and only 3 of the 17 specialists find some beauty in each of these three poems.

It must be recalled that their lecturer had called attention to beautiful elements, but the students go far beyond her, as will be seen by another glance at her report on her own references, and the

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