- The purpose of this investigation was to duplicate the methodology
of the Pitcher and Prelinger (1963) study, using their theoretical framework
and category system, to examine the cultural impact upon the
development of a group of socioeconomically disadvantaged preschool
children as reflected in their fantasy products, specifically
in their spontaneously told stories. The results for this disadvantaged
group were analyzed separately, and were compared, where
possible, with the Pitcher and Prelinger data on a socioeconomically
privileged group of children.
The general assumption underlying the hypotheses is that experiences
due to cultural impact will be differentially expressed in
the fantasy products of two socioeconomically different groups of
children and will be reflected in their spontaneously told stories.
The three null hypotheses formulated to test for differences within
the less privileged group were: formal aspects of the stories,
which presumably represent the child's ego structure, do not differ
for boys and girls of the two age groups; story contents, which
presumably represent the range of experience stored in the child,
are independent of age, sex, and number of parents; and, the predominant
psychosocial issue in the stories do not differ for boys
and girls of the two age groups. The hypotheses formulated for
comparison of the two different socioeconomic groups were: formal
story aspects and psychosocial modalities do not differ for privilege
group; and, story contents are independent of privilege group.
The data (60 stories) were collected by the investigator using
Jung's "free association" method and were rated by three judges
using the Pitcher and Prelinger category system. Satisfactory interjudge reliability agreement was established on the ratings. Analysis
of variance and the x² test of independence were used to analyze the
data for tests within the less privileged group; whereas, analysis
for the comparison of the two groups, with the exception of one
modified x² test, had to be carried out on the basis of inspection
alone due to the particular manner in which Pitcher and Prelinger
reported their data.
Stories were collected from 30 socioeconomically disadvantaged
three- and four-year-old children enrolled in a United-Fund-supported
day nursery in Portland, Oregon in the summer of 1964.
The subjects, designated as socioeconomically disadvantaged (or less privileged) children were from families for whom the median
annual take-home income is $3234.00; 53% of the sample were from
single-parent families and 47% were from two-parent families; and,
21% of the parents had college or graduate education while 79% had
high school education. The socioeconomically privileged subjects
of the Pitcher and Prelinger study were from two-parent families
of professional people, attended exclusive private nursery schools,
and 60% of them showed superior capacity on intelligence tests.
The results obtained within the less privileged group indicated
that interaction of sex and age accounts for the significant difference
in formal aspects as well as in relevant material on psychosocial
modalities expressed in the stories; and, that the choice of the two
major themes in the story contents category was dependent upon
the sex of the child. Outstanding differences on the means for the
sex and age groups were described and discussed.
Findings on the comparison of data for the two relatively privileged
groups showed that choice of themes in the stories was dependent
on socioeconomic (privilege) group; the privileged group used
themes reflecting socialization more often than the less privileged
group and the less privileged group used themes centering in the
self more often. Outstanding differences in the group means for
the two relatively privileged groups were reported and discussed.
Tentative explanations of the results in light of socio-cultural
factors were considered and obvious weaknesses of the study were
pointed up. It was concluded that fantasy products, in the form of
spontaneously told stories, for the two relatively privileged socioeconomic
groups of preschoolers do, at least to some degree,
differentially reflect socio-cultural impact on child development.