The influence of art expertise and training on emotion and preference ratings for representational and abstract artworks

Jorien Van Paasschen, Francesca Bacci, David P. Melcher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Across cultures and throughout recorded history, humans have produced visual art. This raises the question of why people report such an emotional response to artworks and find some works more beautiful or compelling than others. In the current study we investigated the interplay between art expertise, and emotional and preference judgments. Sixty participants (40 novices, 20 art experts) rated a set of 150 abstract artworks and portraits during two occasions: in a laboratory setting and in a museum. Before commencing their second session, half of the art novices received a brief training on stylistic and art historical aspects of abstract art and portraiture. Results showed that art experts rated the artworks higher than novices on aesthetic facets (beauty and wanting), but no group differences were observed on affective evaluations (valence and arousal). The training session made a small effect on ratings of preference compared to the non-trained group of novices. Overall, these findings are consistent with the idea that affective components of art appreciation are less driven by expertise and largely consistent across observers, while more cognitive aspects of aesthetic viewing depend on viewer characteristics such as art expertise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0134241
JournalPloS one
Volume10
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 5 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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