Psychological dimensions and patterns in writings of critics1


  • 1

    Requests for reprints should be sent to Revenna Helson, Institute of Personality Assessment & Research, University of california, Berkeley, california 94720. This research was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


Seventy-nine articles by critics in children's literature were described by rater-analysts as projective expressions of personality. A cluster analysis of manifest content concerns, implicit needs, and critical stances produced four clusters: elucidation, appreciation, challenging, and upholding of standards. When the articles were plotted on a “map of criticism,” with the elucidation and appreciation dimensions as coordinates, style of criticism was found to vary from one area of the map to another. Articles from diagonal quadrants had attributed to them characteristics approximating the Jungian functions: thinking-feeling and intuition-sensation. Articles high on challenging and upholding also had distinctive characteristics. The distribution of articles on the map was associated with occupation, sex, and age of the critics. Criticism and related discursive writing seem to reflect personality in important and pervasive ways. An understanding of their connotations may be a useful tool in personality and social psychology. However, personality information from the critics themselves is obviously needed.