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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Development and testing of a paired-comparisons figural scale to measure preference for complexity Wichert, Shelley Gabriele


The purpose of this study was to develop and to test a paired-comparisons figural scale to measure preference for complexity. A Random Shapes Scale (RSS) consisting of 18 sets of 3 random shapes was constructed. In each set of 3, one shape was of high complexity, one of medium complexity and one of low complexity. The random shapes were chosen from the eleven hundred generated by Vanderplas. Two existing measures of preference for complexity, the Barron-Welsh Art Scale (BW) and the Revised Art Scale (RA) were also used. Students in architecture, art, education, law and engineering (N=292) were tested using the RSS. Three weeks later the same groups of students (N=184) were retested on the RSS and completed the BW and RA as well. The BW and RA were significantly correlated with the RSS in three of the five groups tested. The internal consistency of the RSS calculated over all groups combined was .66; the stability coefficient was .71. The analysis of variance showed significant differences among the five groups tested. Therefore the RSS does differentiate among groups on the dimension of preference for complexity. The majority of the items were highly correlated with total test scores. This indicates that the items are homogenous. The results of the statistical analyses lead to the conclusion that the RSS is a useful measure of a unitary dimension of preference for complexity.

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