The plots were:
1. "A stuffy banker is outwitted in an amusing way by a group of farmers"
2. "A plain girl to whom no one had paid much attention in her home town goes to Washington, becomes a great social success, and marries a brilliant young Senator."
3. "An amateur detective solves an unusually puzzling murder."
4. "A soldier returns to find that his wife has been blinded in an air raid."
5. "The adventures of a little-known sea captain who had a great influence on the outcome of the American Revolution."
6. "The problems of a man who can't make decisions because he always had been tied to his mother's apron strings."
7. "The wife of a European diplomat runs away with an American businessman."
8. "Two high school sweethearts drift apart but finally realize they have loved each other all along and are married."
It seemed to me that 4, 6, and 7 were the plots that were most compatible with "literary" fiction, since they didn't involve a clear happy ending or solution. Therefore, I expected that they would be less popular overall, but that education would increase the taste for them. The actual rankings by popularity are:
Asterisks indicate the ones I regarded as more "literary." On the average, they were indeed less popular than the others. The figures are percent who said they they would pick that story minus the percent who said they wouldn't want to read it. Most of the numbers are negative because people could pick only one as their favorite but could give multiple answers on ones that they wouldn't want to read.
I regressed each person's ratings of each story on five characteristics, education, economic level (as estimated by the interviewer, age, and dummy variables for black and female:
Educ Eclev Age Black Female
Captain +.083 +.046 +.019 +.006 -.194
Banker -.029 +.012 +.038 -.018 -.117
Girl -.032 +.003 +.003 +.126 +.314
Detective +.014 -.027 -.021 +.003 -.352
Apron +.021 -.051 +.003 +.099 +.115
Blind -.054 -.045 -.034 -.034 +.046
Love -.099 -.058 +.002 +.050 +.249
Affair -.064 -.014 -.031 +.036 +.079
Contrary to my expectations, education didn't make people more favorable to the "literary" plots. More educated people were a little more favorable to the one about the man who couldn't make decisions, but less favorable to the ones about the soldier returning to find his wife was blind and the affair. Gender was the strongest influence on all but one (the returning soldier)--in general, education reduced taste for plots that were more popular among women.