The effects of magazine fiction on differing social categories



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The effects of magazine fiction on various types of social categories were studied in this exploratory research. Central to this problem is the assumption that it is possible to designate distinct reading publics or social categories such that the category members will relate to fictional magazine stories and characters in a predictable and uniform manner. The construction of instruments which could assess the reactions of reading publics to fictional articles was a goal of this study. This research also attempted to determine which characteristics of various reading publics would be most useful to test the social categories theory. A sample consisting of twenty-four fictional stories selected from Urban-male, Adventure, Women-interest, and Romance magazines was used in the study. Open-ended questions, unstructured interviewing and semantic differential tests were administered to obtain attitudinal information from the respondents concerning their reactions to these stories and the main characters. These measuring instruments were also used to determine the extent to which the respondents were able to identify with the main characters. Three propositional statements guided this research. They were based on the premise that sex, age, and SES of the respondents significantly affect the direction and intensity of their reactions to the fictional stories and characters. On the basis of the research findings, SES was the best predictor of effects on readers. Future research into the area of social categories should focus on the multiple effects of sex, age, and the three variables which comprise SES. The questions asked the respondents after each story seemed to have accurately assessed the direction and intensity of their reactions to the four types of fiction and the main characters.



Fiction, Social categories