Thesis Title

Aesthetic Preference and Poetic Writing Style: A Correlational Study

Graduation Date

Spring 1998

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Document Form


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy

Degree Granting Institution

Notre Dame de Namur University

Program Name

Art Therapy


To date, there are few empirical studies conducted on poetic writing styles. There is also a need for more empirical studies on artistic styles and the implications for art therapy as a form of psychotherapeutic treatment. Yet until this study, there were no studies which attempted to find correlations between verbal and visual expressive styles. Both forms of expression are often encountered through the course of psychological treatment, and understanding what the projective expression means can be a daunting task.

This research project tested the hypothesis that a preference for visual complexity, as measured by the Barron-Welsh art test, correlates with an imagistic and metaphoric style of writing poetry for subjects who participated in group poetry therapy sessions conducted at Stanford Department of Behavioral Sciences. Subjects were a series of thirteen individuals who were in treatment for chemical dependency in the adolescent day treatment program. The mean age was 16.3 years, with a standard deviation of 1.4 years.. There were two males and eleven females.

The results from this study, coupled with comprehensive data from other empirical studies in the arts and sciences, support the notion that a preference for visual complexity predicts expressive style across a variety of modalities, especially poetry and the visual arts. It is postulated that there may be a biological substrate to visual preference and expressive styles, but more studies need to be conducted to understand the functional neuro-anatomic relations between individual differences in preference and expressive style A focus on hemispheric lateralization of tasks may ultimately prove beneficial and yield useful data.