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Aesthetic Appreciation Explicated
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2011 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The present doctoral thesis outlines a new model in psychological aesthetics, named the Information-Load Model. This model asserts that aesthetic appreciation is grounded in the relationship between the amount of information of stimuli and people’s capacity to process this information. This relationship results in information load, which in turn creates emotional responses to stimuli. Aesthetic appreciation corresponds to an optimal degree of information load. Initially, the optimal degree is relatively low. As an individual learns to master information in a domain (e.g., photography), the degree of information load, which corresponds to aesthetic appreciation, increases.

The present doctoral thesis is based on three empirical papers that explored what factors determine aesthetic appreciation of photographs and soundscapes. Experiment 1 of Paper I involved 34 psychology undergraduates and 564 photographs of various motifs. It resulted in a set of 189 adjectives related to the degree of aesthetic appreciation of photographs. The subsequent experiments employed attribute scales that were derived from this set of adjectives. In Experiment 2 of Paper I, 100 university students scaled 50 photographs on 141 attribute scales. Similarly, in Paper II, 100 university students scaled 50 soundscapes on 116 attribute scales. In Paper III, 10 psychology undergraduates and 5 photo professionals scaled 32 photographs on 27 attribute scales. To explore the underlying structure of the data sets, they were subjected to Multidimensional Scaling and Principal Components Analyses. Four general components, related to aesthetic appreciation, were found: Familiarity, Hedonic Tone, Expressiveness, and Uncertainty. These components result from the higher-order latent factor Information Load that underlies aesthetic appreciation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , 2011. , 136 p.
Keyword [en]
Aesthetic Appreciation, Information-Load Model, Photographs, Soundscapes, Theory Development
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-53385ISBN: 978-91-7447-214-1 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-53385DiVA: diva2:390632
Public defence
2011-03-04, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2011-02-10 Created: 2011-01-22 Last updated: 2011-02-07Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Towards a psychology of photography: Dimensions underlying aesthetic appeal of photographs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Towards a psychology of photography: Dimensions underlying aesthetic appeal of photographs
2007 (English)In: Perceptual and Motor Skills, ISSN 0031-5125, E-ISSN 1558-688X, Vol. 105, no 2, 411-434 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

With the aim to contribute to the development of a psychology of photography, this study examined what attributes are the major determinants of aesthetic appeal of photographs. Two interlinked experiments were conducted with 564 photographs having a wide range of motifs. Exp. 1 consisted of sorting by aesthetic appeal and adjective generation. In Exp. 2, attribute scaling was collected. Multidimensional scaling analysis of the photographs yielded three dimensions identified with the aid of attribute scales combined with measures of the manifest content of the photographs. The three dimensions were Hedonic Tone-Familiarity, Absence of color, and Expressiveness-Dynamics. The present results suggested that participants' familiarity with the photographs, the types of photographs (Color or Black & White), and the photographs' dynamics all affected participants' judgments of aesthetic appeal. Hedonic Tone and Expressiveness apparently mediated the participants' judgments.

National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-19762 (URN)000251076100009 ()
Available from: 2007-11-16 Created: 2007-11-16 Last updated: 2017-12-13Bibliographically approved
2. Individual differences in preferences to photographs
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Individual differences in preferences to photographs
2007 (English)In: Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, ISSN 1931-3896, Vol. 1, no 2, 61-72 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Individual differences in preferences to photographs were explored based on an alternative framework. This framework predicts that the primary difference between individuals in this respect is their ability to process photographic information, which in turn influences their preferences. Chiefly, people with well-developed schemes in photography (e.g., photo professionals) should have a higher ability to process photographic information than people with less developed schemes (e.g., psychology students). Consequently, people with well-developed schemes in photography should prefer photographs that are relatively more demanding to process. Ten psychology students and 5 photo professionals assessed 32 photographs on six general concepts: Preference, Hedonic Tone, Expressiveness, Familiarity, Uncertainty, and Dynamics. As predicted, photo professionals had a higher ability to process photographic information and preferred photographs that were relatively uncertain and unfamiliar. These results are in concordance with previous research and give strong support to the utility of the present framework in experimental aesthetics.

Keyword
individual differences; aesthetic preferences; photographs; cognitive processes; emotional responses
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-19765 (URN)10.1037/1931-3896.1.2.61 (DOI)
Available from: 2007-11-16 Created: 2007-11-16 Last updated: 2011-01-25Bibliographically approved
3. A principal components model of soundscape perception
Open this publication in new window or tab >>A principal components model of soundscape perception
2010 (English)In: Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, ISSN 0001-4966, E-ISSN 1520-8524, Vol. 128, no 5, 2836-2846 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

There is a need for a model that identifies underlying dimensions of soundscape perception, and which may guide measurement and improvement of soundscape quality. With the purpose to develop such a model, a listening experiment was conducted. One hundred listeners measured 50 excerpts of binaural recordings of urban outdoor soundscapes on 116 attribute scales. The average attribute scale values were subjected to principal components analysis, resulting in three components: Pleasantness, eventfulness, and familiarity, explaining 50, 18 and 6% of the total variance, respectively. The principal-component scores were correlated with physical soundscape properties, including categories of dominant sounds and acoustic variables. Soundscape excerpts dominated by technological sounds were found to be unpleasant, whereas soundscape excerpts dominated by natural sounds were pleasant, and soundscape excerpts dominated by human sounds were eventful. These relationships remained after controlling for the overall soundscape loudness (Zwicker’s N10), which shows that ‘informational’ properties are substantial contributors to the perception of soundscape. The proposed principal components model provides a framework for future soundscape research and practice. In particular, it suggests which basic dimensions are necessary to measure, how to measure them by a defined set of attribute scales, and how to promote high-quality soundscapes.

Keyword
soundscape perception, principal components model, measurement
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-52115 (URN)10.1121/1.3493436 (DOI)
Available from: 2011-01-13 Created: 2011-01-13 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved

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