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This study examines a content analysis of physical traces (graffiti) from college
desk tops in order to analyze the frequency of certain categorized subjects of content.
The researchers of this study hypothesized that students\' graffiti would show clues about
the student culture and their preoccupations. It was further hypothesized that from six
relevant descriptive categories, graffiti would most frequently be related to altered states
of consciousness. The other five categories were: (1) music, (2) sports, (3) people, (4)
sex, or (5) doodles.
Results after collecting the data caused the researchers to reject their hypothesis
of altered states of consciousness as being the most frequently encountered category. In
fact, this category was lower than four other categories; music, sports, people, and
doodles. Doodles were the most frequently found graffiti which suggested to the
researchers that their own biases about college students could have been partially
responsible for their faulty prediction.
Cultural Windows 3.
Graffiti: The Window to a Culture and its Individuals
This study of graffiti was chosen for several rather obvious reasons; it\'s fun to
read, can be very educational, and it also provides important clues about the
characteristics or identity of the individuals and their environmental and emotional
conditions. These physical traces provide researchers with valuable nonreactive
measures of behavior. This eliminates any problems of response bias from the
participants since physical traces are products, remnants, and fragments of some past
behavior. This method however, does not eliminate researcher bias, as we know, from
this very experiment.
Graffiti is the physical trace of products or creations that have been left behind to
be read, pondered upon, amused by, or disgusted by others. These traces can sometimes
point to patterns of thought or behavior that once were present at a particular site.
Graffiti is a trace measure of accretion (it builds up over time). It is based on
accumulated scratchings of previous occupants of the area. It can also be classified as a
natural use trace because the researchers do not intervene while the graffiti is being
Most of recorded history is written. "Graffiti, then, are little insights, little
peepholes into the minds of individuals who are spokesmen not only for themselves but
for others like them" (Reisner, 1971, 1).
Graffiti from prehistoric France depicts drawings of weather, nature, and societal
dwellings. Eighteenth century England depicts graffiti of the Pox, and sexually
transmitted diseases. The early twentieth century graffiti in Germany depicts racial
prejudices between Catholics and Jews. This is a case where graffiti actually predicted
the future of that culture. Graffiti has been noted by Reisner (1971) to follow certain
patterns that intrigue us. One such pattern is that of the nature of the content of graffiti
tends to become more visceral the more private the writing place.
Cultural Windows 4.
Graffiti reflects our lives, our educational backgrounds, our ideas, thoughts,
feelings, and frustrations. Acheologists have known this for years, and psychologists are
studying the behaviors that graffiti content suggests. The nature of the writer is revealed
in three main variables; the spirit of the times, the location of the graffiti, and the nature
of the content. The majority of writings do however appear to be cynical in nature
(Reisner, 1971). It has been further suggested that graffiti of a hostile nature could
possibly be the frustrations of people feeling impotent to change their governmental
controls or environmental controls that repress their class. Boredom, gossip, rumor,
slander, brag, accusation, and insult are all found in the contents of graffiti. There seems
to be no limit of people\'s imaginations or of where one might encounter a writing.
The focus of this current study has been to determine which, if any, categories of
content appear most often on college desk tops. This should give us a glimpse of college
life in the 90s, and an indication of attention of students or preoccupations.
Content Analysis & Operational Definition.
Seven researchers collected physical traces (graffiti) from twenty-eight desk tops
in pre-selected rooms on one floor of the college. Each researcher was assigned four
desks to examine using the random numbers table for the order of the desks they were
assigned. An 18x18cm clear overlay was used in the data collection process to assure the
areas covered to be equal among researchers. The 18x18cm square was divided into four
equal 9x9cm windows labeled (1) A, (2) B, (3) C, (4) D from the top left-hand corner to
the bottom right-
Cultural Windows 5.
hand corner respectively. Totals from six categories being: (1)music, (2) altered states
of consciousness, (3) sports, (4) people, (5) sex, and (6) doodles, were compiled from
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Art genres, Raoul and Davide Perre, Street art, Doodle, Graffiti, Such, Ancient Maya graffiti
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