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Collier, M.J. (1961). The Psychological Appeal in the Cinderella Theme. Am. Imago, 18(4):399-411.

(1961). American Imago, 18(4):399-411

The Psychological Appeal in the Cinderella Theme

Mary Jeffery Collier

In two earlier papers (Collier & Gaier, 1958a; Collier & Gaier, 1958b), the childhood story preferences of 184 college women1 were reported and discussed. Sixty percent of these women (N=109) mentioned a fairy tale, encountered at the average age of 4.74 years and presumably in the oedipal period, as their favorite childhood story. Seventeen percent (N=32) named the Perrault variant of Cinderella, making it by far the most popular of all the stories mentioned. It thus becomes of considerable psychological interest to investigate factors which might contribute to Cinderella's popularity. This will be attempted here by referring to some previously unreported data.

Thirty-two college women who reported their favorite childhood story to be Cinderella also provided answers to the following questions: A. “What was most appealing to you about the story AS A CHILD!” and B. “What is most appealing to you about the story NOW!”.

A. Grouped and labelled for homogeneity of theme and increasing frequency, the verbatim answers to the first question are given in Appendix A. These college women did not perhaps recall all their reasons for liking Cinderella, as children, nor necessarily describe all of what insights they had. Nevertheless, their responses seem to have hit upon some consistent and therefore presumably significant aspects of the story's appeal, judging from the fact that they fall readily into six groups. These groups are: I. The generally wish-fulfilling character of Cinderella (N=2); II. The romantic love theme (N=4); III. Cinderella's triumph over stepmother and stepsisters (N=4); IV.

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