Gender, Age, Education, Size, and Race as Indicators of the Thematic Content of High School and College/University Bathroom Graffiti

Jennifer E. Diehl, The College of Wooster


A collection and content analysis of 785 graffiti from eight high schools and 6 colleges/universities display that variables of gender, age/education, size of educational unit, and race are indicators of graffiti content. Through inductive reasoning, eleven content categories of miscellaneous, taboo language, violence, racial, religious, sexual,identity, drug/alcohol, declarations, life questions, and romance were derived to include in comparisons between the five different variables. Results indicate that females write more graffiti than males, producing almost 60 percent of the total graffiti. Among the content categories, romantic graffiti are most apparent, comprising 3 2 percent of the total graffiti sample. Graffiti content differs among the variable of age/education; the older students with more education are more likely to write graffiti pertaining to life, while high school bathrooms are most apparent with inscriptions of romance. The variable of size indicates that smaller colleges are more abundant with drug/alcohol content, while sexual graffiti dominate larger universities. Testing for race as an indicator of graffiti content displays that high schools with more racial heterogeneity include more racially insulting graffiti. Finally, the concepts of and results of this study pertain to three sociological theories of symbolic interaction, conflict, and social process theories .


© Copyright 1999 Jennifer E. Diehl