Chris Uggen's Blog: 1939 marital rating chart: congress good, red nail polish bad

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

1939 marital rating chart: congress good, red nail polish bad

the american psychological association's monitor on psychology and boingboing offer this illuminating glimpse of marital expectations in 1939. some excerpts from the story by nick joyce and david b. baker:

"Marital Rating Scale—Wife's Chart," a test developed in the late 1930s by George W. Crane, MD, PhD, (1901–95) of Northwestern University...was designed to give couples feedback on their marriages. Either husbands or wives could take the test, which rated wives in a variety of areas. For instance, if your wife "uses slang or profanity," she would get a score of five demerits. On the other hand, if she "reacts with pleasure and delight to marital congress," she would receive 10 merits. ... His method was to interview 600 husbands on their wives' positive and negative qualities. Then he listed the 50 demerits and merits that arose most frequently... Crane's views on marriage were well-received at the time. He had 12 bulletins on the subject that could be purchased through mail order. In 1957, he started the Scientific Marriage Foundation—sort of a low-tech version of the popular matchmaking Web site eHarmony—which took a "scientific" approach to marriage.


At 7:38 AM, Blogger Jay Livingston said...

This is great. It shows how culture-bound our likes and dislikes are -- the likes and dislikes that we assume are "natural," universal, and eternal.

(I misread #1 on the demerit side; I assumed "in" where the text had "to." It still seemed about right.)

At 9:05 AM, Blogger christopher uggen said...

thanks, jay -- soc images has links to the full text:


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