Aesthetic taste and consumer demand for cultural goods: an application to theatre
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 20:31 authored by Anita Zednik
This thesis develops and tests hypotheses with respect to two commonly observed phenomena in cultural goods consumption: Firstly, the fact that cultural goods are an "acquired taste" in that some experience or knowledge is necessary for those goods to be enjoyed. Current models account for this phenomenon by including proxies such as past exposure, general education or social status. Secondly, within a cultural goods category, goods that are aesthetically rewarding are generally not as highly demanded as those that are considered entertaining. This thesis tests whether the philosophical concept of taste (interpreted as a perceptive skill) can explain those two phenomena, distinct from past exposure. Choice models are developed and tested using data collected via an online discrete choice experiment applied to over 400 Sydney residents. Theatre plays were chosen as the cultural goods category to test the hypotheses, since demand for and choice of theatre has been investigated previously by cultural economists and thus offers good opportunities for comparing research results. Direct and indirect measures of individual aesthetic taste as well as three alternative measures of aesthetic qualities of theatre plays are developed. Binary conditional logit models, tobit regression models, multinomial logit models, ordinary least squares models and a latent class model were estimated from the survey data to test the hypotheses. An overall positive effect of aesthetic taste on consumer choice of cultural goods, separate from the effects of past attendance, is established. Results for the hypotheses tested in regard to the relationship between aesthetic taste and aesthetic qualities are largely supported. The conclusion of this thesis emphasizes the importance of aesthetic taste as a concept distinct from familiarity, and suggests how the results can be used by policy makers and arts organisations. Suggestions for further research are given.