Psychology of Art and Aesthetics

Pablo Tinio and Jeffrey Smith

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online November 2011 | | DOI:
Psychology of Art and Aesthetics

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The psychology of art and aesthetics is the study of the perception and experience of the visual arts, music, film, performances, literature, design, and the environment. Art is a human phenomenon, and therefore aesthetics is fundamentally a psychological process. Psychological aesthetics evolved from the study of aesthetics by philosophers such as Baumgarten and Kant. It was Gustav T. Fechner (see Foundational Works) who took aesthetics out of the realm of contemplative musings by developing rigorous procedures for studying the arts. He subjected beliefs derived from philosophical work, such as the golden section, to empirical investigation. Researchers address a multitude of psychological topics such as visual and auditory perception, knowledge and memory, and preferences and emotion, using a variety of approaches, from experimental and physiological methodologies to qualitative analyses and state-of-the-art imaging techniques. Furthermore, aesthetics researchers compare art experts to novices, develop models of aesthetic reactions to works of art, and look at how people perceive art in museum settings. Although aesthetics has traditionally been closely tied to beauty, research today encompasses those works of art that elicit negative reactions and even those that are intended to offend. The literature included in this article focuses on classic texts that have proposed an original theory, concept, or debate related to the psychology of arts and aesthetics as well as more recent works that have attempted to revisit prior work and stimulate current debates. The order of presentation is based more on the similarity (or contrast) among the various sources and on the progression of ideas than on a strict chronology. The first section presents the foundational readings. This is followed by articles that provide general overviews and present formal models integrating the many aspects of the psychology of art and aesthetics. Basic features of art-related stimuli and mediators of the aesthetic experience are then examined. The next broad sections describe literature on the search for meaning during aesthetic experiences, the influence of personal characteristics such as art expertise and personality on the perception and interpretation of art, and the experience of aesthetic emotions. Descriptions of three emerging areas in psychological aesthetics, namely, neuroaesthetics, evolutionary aesthetics, the psychology of photography, and museum research follow these sections. Finally, psychological aesthetics in the context of education and culture is presented.

Article.  12271 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

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