The effects of Freudian symbolism on creative story production

Constance Jean Larson, Marquette University


The purpose of the present study was to explore the nature of Freudian symbolism by determining to what extent, if any, the variables of gender, symbol and mode of presentation and/or their interactions influenced the writing of a short story by dextral 18 to 22-year-olds as measured by four dependent variables: two objective and two subjective. The objective measures were sexual content of story as measured by a form of the Semantic Differential and fluency of story production. The subjective measures were latent sexual content of story and originality of story title. Thus, the possibilities that the thematic content of the stories produced was sexual in nature and/or that the stories and/or titles were creative in nature were explored. Forty-six males and 46 females were visually presented with either theoretical Freudian male or female symbols in either pictorial or printed form and then responded on the dependent measures articulated above. In the first data analysis, responses from the Semantic Differential were subject to a 2 (gender) x 2 (symbol) x 2 (mode of presentation)x 6 (bi-polar adjective subscales) ANOVA with repeated measures on the last factor. Post hoc pairwise comparisons were computed where needed using Duncan's Multiple Range Test at a.05 level of significance. Results indicated statistical significance at a.05 level on main effects for gender and subscales and a significant interaction regarding symbol by mode by subscales. In a second data analysis, responses from all four dependent measures were subject to MANOVA procedures. Results yielded a statistically significant main effect for symbol at a.05 level of significance. A subsequent univariate ANOVA indicated a statistically significant main effect at a.05 level for symbol with respect to the subjective measure of sexual content of story production. Several discrepancies between the MANOVA and univariate ANOVA are methodologically examined and elaborated upon. Conclusions regarding the nature of Freudian symbolism are presented in relation to the research questions posited. Aspects of sexual content emerged as significant. Creativity was evident only on the univariate ANOVA.

Recommended Citation

Larson, Constance Jean, "The effects of Freudian symbolism on creative story production" (1995). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI9600853.