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A series of novel polyphenylenevinylene (PPV) derivative polymers were studied by absorption and photoluminescence spectroscopies. The effect of the sequential introduction of polycyclic aromatic ring substituents into the delocalized backbone was examined with relation to hypsochromatic and bathochromatic shifting. While the replacement of the phenyl units by naphthyl units results in a substantial hypsochromic shift of both the absorption and emission spectra, their subsequent substitution by anthryl units results in a bathochromic shift. The system is modeled according to, and is found to be consistent with, a previous study of donor-acceptor polyenes of varying length. The electronic structure of the backbone is found to be a balance between that of the high electron affinity polycyclic ring system and the contribution to conjugation across the linking vinyl unit. The model is adapted based on electron affinities of the constituent units, and a clear structure-property relationship for the absorption and emission properties of the system is elucidated. The Stokes shift is examined and is seen to be well-correlated with the vinyl contribution to the electron affinity total (EAtotal). The trends observed in the optical properties of the polymeric system are supported by Raman spectroscopy, whereby the spectral signature of the connecting vinyl bond is seen to soften in a fashion which is correlated with the modeled electron affinity parameters.