Psychology of art

The psychology of art is an interdisciplinary field that studies perception , cognition and characteristics of art and its production. For the use of art materials as a form of psychotherapy , see art therapy . The psychology of art is related to architectural psychology and environmental psychology . quote needed ]

The work of Theodor Lipps , a Munich-based research psychologist, played an important role in the early development of the concept of art psychology in the early twentieth century. citation needed ] His most important contribution in this respect was his attempt to theorize the question of Einfuehlung or ” empathy “, a term that was to become a key element in many subsequent theories of art psychology . quote needed ]



One of the Earliest to integrate psychology with art history Was Heinrich Wölfflin (1864-1945), a Swiss art critic and historian, Whose dissertation Prolegomena zu einer Psychologie der Architektur (1886) Attempted to show architecture That Could Be Understood Purely from a psychological ( as opposed to a historical-progressivist) point of view. [3]

Another important figure in the development of art psychology was Wilhelm Worringer , who provided some of the earliest theoretical justification for expressionist art. The Psychology of Art (1925) by Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) is another classical work. Richard Müller-Freienfels was another important early theorist. quote needed ]

Numerous artists in the twentieth century, including Naum Gabo , Paul Klee , Wassily Kandinsky , and Josef Albers and György Kepes . The French adventurer and film theorist Andre Malraux was also interested in the topic and wrote the book The Psychology of Art (1947-9) later revised and republished as The Voices of Silence .


Thoughts of the discipline of psychology were first developed in Germany, there were soon advocates, in psychology, the arts or in philosophy, pursuing their own variants in the USSR, England ( Clive Bell and Herbert Read ), France ( André Malraux , Jean -Paul Weber , for example), and the US. quote needed ]

In the US, the philosophical premises of art psychology were strengthened-and given political valence-in the work of John Dewey . [4] His’ Art as Experience was published in 1934, and was the basis for significant revisions in teaching practices in the kindergarten or in the university. Manuel Barkan, Head of the Arts Education School of Fine Arts and Applied Arts at Ohio State University, and one of the many pedagogues influenced by the writings of Dewey, explains, for example, in his book, The Foundations of Art Education (1955), that the aesthetic education of children prepares the child for a life in a complex democracy. Dewey himself played a seminal role in the Barnes Foundationin Philadelphia, which becomes famous for its attempt to integrate art into the classroom experience. quote needed ]

The growth of art psychology between 1950 and 1970 also coincided with the expansion of art history and museum programs. The popularity of Gestalt psychology in the 1950s added further weight to the discipline. The seminal work was Gestalt Therapy: Excitement and Growth in the Human Personality (1951), which was co-authored by Fritz Perls , Paul Goodman, and Ralph Hefferline. The writings of Rudolf Arnheim (born 1904) were also particularly influential during this period. His Toward a Psychology of Art (Berkeley: The University of California Press) was published in 1966. Art Therapy is being written on the subject of psychology and tried to be implemented in the context of ego repair.[5] Marketing also begins to draw on the lessons of art psychology in the layout of stores and the design of commercial goods. [6]

Art psychology, Generally Speaking, Was at odds with the principles of Freudian psychoanalysis with art Many psychologists critiquing, What They construed as, ict reductivism Sigmund Freud Believed que la creative process is an alternative to neuroses. He felt that it was likely to have a negative impact on the neurotic effects of neurosis, which could be more easily understood. [7] The writings of Carl JungHowever, it has had a favorable effect on the understanding of the art of psychopathology and its ability to understand the role of the subject. [8] [9]

By the 1970s, the centrality of art psychology in academy began to wane. Artists became more interested in psychoanalysis [10] and feminism , [11] and architects in phenomenology and the writings of Wittgenstein , Lyotard and Derrida . As for art and architectural historians, they criticize psychology for being anti-contextual and culturally naive. Erwin Panofsky , Who Had a Tremendous peacock term ] impact on the shape of art history in the US, argued historians shoulds That focus is what is seen less and more on What Was Thought. [12] [13]Today, psychology still plays an important role in art discourse, though mainly in the field of art appreciation. [3]

Because of the growing interest in personality theory-especially in connection with the work of Isabel Briggs Myers and Katherine Briggs (developers of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ), contemporary theorists are investigating the relationship between personality type and art. Patricia Dinkelaker and John Fudjack have addressed the relationship between artists and art; approaches to art as a reflection of functional preferences associated with personality type; and the function of art in society in light of personality theory. [14]

Aesthetic Experience

Art is considered to be a subjective field, in which one composes and views artwork in unique ways that reflect one’s experience, knowledge, preference, and emotions. The aesthetic experience encompasses the relationship between the viewer and the art object. In terms of the artist, there is an emotional attachment that drives the focus of art. An artist must be completely in-tune with the art object in order to enrich its creation. [15] As the piece of art progresses during the creative process, so does the artist. Both grow and change to get new meaning. If the artist is too emotionally attached or lacking emotional compatibility with a work of art, then this will negatively impact the finished product. [15]According to Bosanquet (1892), the “aesthetic attitude” is important in viewing art because it allows one to consider an object. However, art does not evoke an aesthetic experience unless the viewer is willing and open to it. No matter how compelling the object is, it is up to the beholder to allow the existence of such an experience. [16]

In the eyes of Gestalt psychologist Rudolf Arnheim, the aesthetic experience of art stresses the relationship between the object and its individual parts. He is well known for focusing on the experiences and interpretations of artwork and providing insight into peoples’ lives. He was less concerned with the cultural and social contexts of the experience of creating and viewing artwork. In his eyes, an object as a whole is considered with less scrutiny and criticism than the consideration of the specific aspects of its entity. Artwork reflects one’s “lived experience” of his / her life. Arnheim believed that all psychological processes have cognitive, emotional, and motivational qualities, which are reflected in the compositions of every artist. [15]

Psychological research

Overview: bottom-up and top-down processing

Cognitive psychologists consider both “bottom-up” and “top-down”. [17] [18] [19] Similar to what is used in software design , “bottom-up” refers to how information in the stimulus is processed by the visual system into colors, shapes, patterns, etc. [17] [18] “Top-down” refers to conceptual knowledge and experience of the individual. [17] [18] Bottom-up factors identified in the art of figurative painting, form, complexity, symmetry and compositional balance, laterality and movement. [17]Top-down influences, including novelty, additional information like titles, and expertise. [17]

Abstract versus figurative art

Abstract paintings are unique in the explicit abandonment of representational intentions. [20] Figurative or representational art is described as unambiguous or requiring mild interpretation. [20]

The importance of meaning

The popular distaste for abstract art is a direct consequence of semantic ambiguity . [20] Researchers have examined the role of terrorist management theory (TMT) and the aesthetic experience of abstract versus figurative art. This theory suggests that humans are likely to be biologically oriented towards continued survival but are uniquely aware that their lives will inevitably end. TMT reveals that it is often disliked because it lacks appreciable meaning, and is thus incompatible with the underlying terrorism management motive to maintain a meaningful conception of reality. [20] Mortality salienceThe knowledge of approaching death has been discussed in this paper. The mortality salience condition of two questions about emotions and physical details concerning the participant’s own death. [20] Participants were then instructed to view two abstract paintings, and how attractive they are. It is a test of mortality and salience condition that the participants in the mortality salience condition found the less attractive art. [20]

The meaning maintenance maintenance model of sociology states that they are threatened, they experience an arousal state that they prompts them to affirm. [21] Researchers sought to illustrate this phenomenon by demonstrating a heightened personal need for structure following the experience of abstract artwork. [21] Participants were randomly assigned to an interstage viewing of artwork (abstract vs. representational vs. absurd artwork), followed by allocation of the Personal Need for Structure Scale. Personal Need for Structure is used to detect temporary increases in people’s needs. [21]Theoretically, one should experience more need for structure when viewing abstract art than figurative art since unrelated meaning (evoke art) evoke a new heightened general need for meaning. [21] However, results showed that overall scores for representational art, and abstract art did not differ significantly from one another. Participants reported higher scores on the Personal Need for Structure in absurd rather than abstract art. Yet, the question still has to be answered with an expanded sample of abstract expressionist or absurd images. [21]


Studies have shown that when looking at abstract art, people prefer a certain degree of complexity in the work. When measuring “interestingness” and “pleasingness,” viewers rated works higher for abstract works that were more complex. With added exposure to the abstract work, the ratings and ratings of the artist and the rating of the artist. This was only true up to a certain point. When the works became too complex, people began to like the works less. [22]

Neural evidence

Neuroanatomical evidence from studies using fMRI scans of aesthetic preference show. [23] This is displayed through significant activation of brain regions. [23] To test this, the researchers had different views according to type (representational vs. abstract) and format (original vs. altered vs. filtered). Behavioral results demonstrated significantly higher preference for representational paintings. [23] A positive correlation existed between preference ratings and response latency. FMRI results revealed in the right caudate nucleus extending to putamenCultured sulcus , bilateral occipital gyri , bilateral fusiform gyri , right fusiform gyrus , and bilateral cerebellum, increased in response to increased preference for paintings. [23] The differences are a reflection of a relatively higher level of activity associated with higher preference for representational paintings. [23]

Brain wave studies in different ways to abstract and representational art. EEG brain scans that are present while viewing abstract art, non-artists showed less arousal than artists. However, while viewing figurative art, both artists and non-artists had comparable arousal and ability to pay attention and evaluate stimuli art. This suggests abstract art requires more expertise to appreciate it than does figurative art. [24]

Personality type

Individual personality traits are also related to aesthetic experience and art preference. Individuals chronically disposed to clear, simple, and unambiguous knowledge expresses a particular negative aesthetic experience towards abstract art, due to the void of meaningful content. [20] Studies have provided evidence that a person’s choice of art can be a useful measure of personality. [25] Individual personality traits are related to aesthetic experience and art preference. Testing personality after viewing abstract and representational art was performed on the NEO Five-Factor Inventory which measures the “big five” factors of personality . [25]When referencing the “Big Five” dimensions of personality, Thrill and Seeking Adventure were positively correlated with a liking of representational art, while Disinhibition was associated with positive ratings of abstract art. Neuroticism was positively correlated with positive ratings of abstract art, while Conscientiousness was linked to the liking of representational art. Openness to Experience is linked to positive ratings of abstract and representational art. [25]

Automatic evaluation

Studies in the field of art and technology in the field of art and technology In implicit evaluation, people reacted more positively to the figurative art, where they could at least make out the shapes. In terms of explicit evaluation, when there was no difference between the art and the art, there was no real difference in judgment between abstract and representational art. [26]

Laterality and movement

Handedness and reading direction

Laterality and movement in visual art includes aspects such as interest, weight, and balance. Many studies have been conducted on the impact of handedness and reading direction on how to perceive a piece of art. “Read” a painting. Results indicate that both factors contribute to the process. Further, hemispheric specialization leads to the right of access [27]Someone in the same position is interested in a certain direction (right to left, versus left to right), which would then be biased in their own direction to reflect the direction of their reading habits. Results indicated that this prediction held true, in which participants’ drawings reflected their reading bias. [28]

Researchers also look to see if one’s reading direction, left to right or right to left affects one’s preference for the directionality in pictures. Participants were shown images as well as their mirror image, and were asked to indicate more aesthetically pleasing. Overall, results indicate that one ‘s directionality impacts one’ s preference for pictures or with directionality or right to left directionality. [29]

In another study, the researchers examined the right-side bias in aesthetic preference. The readers looked at Russian readers, English readers, and Hebrew readers who were right handed and non-right-handed. Participants viewed pictures taken from art books that were profiled or human faces and bodies in two blocks. Images were shown to participants as inward or outward facing peers and then in the opposite orientation. After peer review, participants were asked which image of the past was more aesthetically pleasing. When right-handed participants had “left preferences” and no right-handed participants had “right preferences.[30] Reading direction seems to be impacting people. Using kindergarten to college aged participants, researchers tested the viewers’ aesthetic preference when comparing an original piece of art with its mirror image. The original paintings followed the convention that viewers “read” paintings from left to right; therefore, the patterns of light directed to the viewer’s view of the painting. Findings indicated that participants preferred the original paintings, most likely due to the western style of viewing paintings from left to right. [31]

Lighting direction

The direction of the lighting on the subject of a painting also seems to have an effect on aesthetic preference. The left-light bias is the tendency for viewers to be better than the painting. Researchers predicted that participants would prefer artwork that was given the option and that they would choose to place a piece of artwork. Participants found painting with the light of a light on the face of the light and the light of day. [32]

Left and right cheek bias

The left cheek bias occurs when viewers prefer portraits with the subject of their cheek, while those who hold a right cheek bias preferred portraits displaying the right cheek. Studies have found mixed results concerning the left cheek bias and the right cheek bias. Male and female participants were shown male and female portraits, each displaying an equal number of left or right cheek positions. Participants were shown in their original orientation and in their reverse orientation and asked which portrait they preferred. Results indicated that the majority of participants thing portraits displaying the subject’s right cheek over the left. [33] Another study explored which posing orientations conveyed certain messages. Scientists in the 18th century [Quote needed ]more frequent displayed a right cheek bias, and were rated as “more scientific.” According to the researchers, showing one’s right cheek hides emotion, while the left cheek expresses it. The shift from right to left cheek bias post 18th century may represent more personal or open facial characteristics. [34]


” [35] This definition has been applied to many subjects, such as art, music, dance, and literature. In aesthetics research, a piece of interstellar computing that has been divided into three dimensions that accounts for the interaction between the amount of elements, differences in elements, and patterns in their arrangement. In addition, this characteristic is a wide spectrum, ranging from low complexity to high complexity. Key studies have found Galvanic skin response, which is more complex arousal and higher hedonic, [36]which is consistent with other findings that claim that aesthetic liking increases with complexity. Most important, several studies have found that there is a U-shape relationship between aesthetic preference and complexity. [37]

Measuring complexity

In general, complexity is a thing that has many parts in an intricate progression. Some researchers break complexity down to two different subparts: objective complexity and perceived complexity. Objective complexity is any part of art that could be manipulated. For visual art that may be the size of the shapes, the number of patters, or the number of colors used. For acoustic art that could include duration, loudness, number of different harmonies, rhythmic activity, and rate of rhythmic activity. [38]Another form of complexity is perceived complexity, or subjective complexity. In this form, they are an object on the complexity they perceive. Therefore, the subjective complexity might be more accurate, however, the measure may change from person to person.

One form of using computer technology to rate complexity, using computer intelligence when rating an image. [39] In this format, the amount of computer intelligence is used when creating a digital image. Computer intelligence is assessed by recording the mathematical formulas used in creating the images. Human involvement, adding or taking away aspects of the image, could also add or take away from the complexity of the image. [39]

One way to measure complexity is to manipulate original artwork to contain various levels of density. This process is done by subtracting and adding pixels to the texture of black and white paintings. This technique allowed researchers to use authentic artwork, instead of creating artificial versions of artwork, to control stimuli. [40]

Still others find it best to measure [41] More aspects to the art, such as more colors, details, shapes, objects, sounds, melodies, and the like, create a more complex artwork. However, there is limited research on the subject of complexity and complexity, making it unclear if people perceive images with more parts being more complex.

Inverse U-Shape hypothesis

The Inverted U-Shape Hypothesis suggests that aesthetic responses in relation to complexity will exhibit an inverted-shape distribution. In other words, the lowest ratings in aesthetic responses correlate with high and low levels of complexity, which displays an “avoidance of extremes.” Furthermore, the highest level of aesthetic response occurs in the middle level of complexity.[37] Previous studies have confirmed the U-Shape hypothesis (see Inverted U-graph image). For instance, in a study of undergraduates’ ratings of liking and complexity of contemporary pop music reported an inverted U-shape relationship between liking and complexity.[42]

Previous research, suggesting that this trend of complexity could also be associated with ability to understand, in which observers prefer artwork that is not too easy or too difficult to understand. [43] Other researches both confirms and disconfirms predictions that can not be avoided in the inverted U-shape distribution. [42]

Aspects of art

Visual art

A general trend shows that the relationship between image complexity and pleasantness ratings form an inverted-U shape graph (see Expertise section for exceptions). This means that people are more likely to have a great deal of pleasure when the time comes to be satisfied.

A recent study has also found that we tend to be more complex, and therefore we are more complex than we are. [44]


Music shows similar trends in complexity vs. preference ratings as does visual art. When comparing popular music, for the time period, and perceived complexity, the known inverted-U shape relationship appears, showing that we like moderately complex music the most. [42] As the music selection is more or less complex, or preferably for that music dips. People who have more experience and training in popular music, however, prefer slightly more complex music. [42] The inverted-U graph shifts to the right for a stronger musical background. A similar pattern can be seen for jazz and bluegrass music . [38]Those with limited musical training in jazz and bluegrass demonstrate the typical inverted-U when looking at complexity and preference, however, experts in those fields do not demonstrate the same pattern. Unlike the popular music experts, jazz and bluegrass experts did not show a distinct relationship between complexity and pleasantness. Experts in those two genres of music seem to just like what they like, without having a formula to describe their behavior. Since different styles of music have different effects, it is preferable for other studies.


Psychological studies have shown that the hedonic likings of dance performance can be influenced by complexity. One experiment used twelve dance choreographies that consist of three levels of performance. Complexity in the dance sequences were created by six movement patterns (ie clockwise circle, counterclockwise circle, and approach stage). Overall, this study has been made to be more accurate with the choreographies and complex dance sequences and faster tempos. [45]

Personal differences

Differences in the number of differences and differences One study tested peoples preferences on various art pieces, taking into account their personal preferences as well. The study found that gender differences exist in art preference. Mostly preferred, geometric, and simple paintings. An age difference in complexity preferences exists as well, where [41]

Some personality traits can also predict the relationship between art complexity and preference. [41]In one study it was found that people who scored high on conscientiousness liked complex painting less than people who tested low on conscientiousness. This falls in line with the idea that it is so disloyal that it is so disloyal that On the other hand, who is highly rated? Differences de prédicateur des prédices d’uncomplementation de complexe d’art une simple art, where no clear personality features predictability for simple art. Although educational level did not have a direct relationship to complexity, more [41] This shows that more exposure to complex art leads to greater preference, where indeed familiarity causes greater liking.


Symmetry and beauty have a strong biological link that influences aesthetic preferences. It has been shown that humans tend to prefer art that contains symmetry, deeming it more beautiful. [46] In addition , symmetry directly correlates to the understanding of a face or artwork as beautiful. [47] The greater the symmetry within the work, the more beautiful it appears to be. [47] Research on aesthetic preference for geometrical forms and the fluid processing of symmetry sheds light on the role of symmetry plays in the overall aesthetic judgment and experience.

Humans innately tend to see a visual preference for symmetry, an identified quality yielding a positive aesthetic experience that uses an automatic bottom-up factor. [48] This bottom-up factor is one of the following: [48] The Implicit Association Test (IAT) has many applications for this method. [49] Research suggests that we prefer symmetry because it is easy to process; hence we have a higher perceptual fluency when works are symmetrical. [50]Fluency research draws on the evidence of humans and animals that point to the importance of symmetry of biological necessity. This research highlights the efficiency with which computers recognize and process symmetrical objects relating to non-symmetrical models. [50] There have been investigations concerning the objective that the stimuli contain that can affect the fluency and therefore the preferences. [50] Factors such as amount of information given, the extent of symmetry, and figure-ground contrast are only a few listed in the literature. [50] This preference for symmetry has been implemented by the Implicit Association Test. Findings suggest that perceptual fluency is a factor that elicits implicit responses, as shown with the Implicit Association Test results. [49] Research has branched out from studying aesthetic pleasure and symmetry on an explicit goal also implicit level. In fact, research tries to integrate priming (psychology) , cultural influences and the different types of stimuli that may elicit an aesthetic preference.

Further research investigating perceptual fluency has found a gender bias towards neutral stimuli. [51] Studies pertaining to generalizing symmetry preference to real-world versus abstract objects allow us to further examine the possible influence of a stimulus. [51] In order to determine whether a subject is a stimulus, participants have been asked to view peers of objects and make a forced-choice decision. [51] The findings suggest that an overall preference for symmetric features of visual objects existed. In addition, a main effect for gender preference has existed in the world that is clearly indicated for the purpose of symmetry in both abstract and real objects. [51]This finding did not transcend in the female participants. [51] Further studies need to be investigated in the context of the study of female patients and their role in the treatment of malevolence. [51]

Art containing geometric forms, as seen in much of Islamic art, has an inherent symmetry to the work. This symmetry can be correlated to the attractiveness associated with the art form, since there is a correlation between human preference and symmetry. [52] In studies of facial attractiveness, symmetry is found in the form of color and in attractiveness. The good genes hypothesis for symmetry preferably argues that symmetry is a biological indicator of stable development, quality and fitness and therefore explains why we choose symmetrical traits in our mates. [52] The good genes hypothesisdoes not, however, explain why this phenomenon is observed in our preferences for decoration art. [52] Another proposed hypothesis is that the hypothesis that the art is not irrelevant but rather a reflection of the fitness of the artist, as symmetrical forms are difficult to produce. [52] These hypotheses and findings provide evidence for evolutionary biases and are preferred for symmetry and reinforcement for cultural biases. [52] Research suggests that it is preferable for its evolutionary basis, biological basis and cultural reinforcement, and may be replicable cross-culturally. [52]

Compositional balance

Compositional balance refers to the placement of various elements in a work of art in relation to each other, through their organization and positioning, and based on their relative weights. [53] The elements may include the size, shape, color, and arrangement of objects or shapes. When balanced, a composition appears stable and visually right. [17] Just as symmetry is related to aesthetic preference and an intuitive sense of how things should ‘appear’, the overall balance of a given composition to judgments of the work.

The positioning of even a single object, such as a bowl or a light fixture, in a composition contributing to preferences for that composition. When viewed in a variety of subjects, the vertical position of the subject has been manipulated. a bowl lower). The center bias manifests can be used for the most important or functional part of an object to occupy the center of the frame, suggesting a bias for a ‘rightness’ of object viewing. [54]

We are also sensitive to balance in their abstract and representational works of art. When viewing variations on the original artwork, such as the manipulation of the red, blue, and yellow areas of color in several Piet Mondrianpaintings, the design-trained and untrained participants successfully identified the balance centers of each variation. Both groups were sensitive to the distribution of color, weight, and occupied area. Expertise (see Art and Expertise ) does not seem to have a large effect on the perception of balance, but only the trained participants. [55]

Both experts and novices tend to judge original works as more optimally balanced than experimental variations, without necessarily identifying the original. [56] There appears to be an intuitive sense for experts and non-experts alike that is given representational painting is the original. Participants tend to deem original artwork as original versus the manipulated works that had been both subtly and obviously altered with respect to the balance of the painting. [57]This suggests some innate knowledge, perhaps not influenced by artistic expertise, of the rightness of a painting in its balance. Both masters and novices are equally susceptible to shifts in the balance of preferences for paintings, which may suggest that both artists viewers have an intuitive sense of balance in art. [58]

Art and expertise

Psychologists have found that they know how to perceive, analyze, and interact with art. [59] To test psychologically, scales have been designed to test experience rather than just years of expertise by testing recognition and knowledge of artists in a number of fields, fluid intelligence, and personality with the Big Five factor inventory. [59] These people with high art expertise were not significantly smarter, nor had a major college in the arts. [59] Instead, openness to experience, one of the Big Five factors, predicted someone’s expertise in art. [59]


In one study, experienced art majors and naive students were shown peers of popular art paintings from magazines and high-art paintings, from museums. [60] Researchers found a significant interaction between expertise and art preference. Naive participants preferred popular art over high-art, while expert participants preferred high-art over popular art. [60] They also found that naive participants rated the art as more pleasant and warm and the high-art paintings as more unpleasant and cold, while experts showed the opposite pattern. [60] Experts look to art for a challenging experience, naive participants view art more for pleasure. [60]Systematic preferences for viewing portraiture (left or right 3/4 profiles) have been found across media, artists, styles, gender / sex, and historical epoch. [61] Both experiential tendencies and innate predispositions have been proposed for account for pose preferences. [62] Further studies controlling variables such as sex and handedness, [63] as well as ongoing hemispheric activation, have shown that these preferences can be studied across several dimensional dimensions. [64]

Eye movements

To investigate if experts and non-experts experience art in their own eyes, seekers in the field of art. [65] After viewing each work, participants rated their liking and emotional reactions to the works. [65] Some works were presented with auditory information about which work, which were neutral facts and the other half were emotional statements about the work. [65] They found that non-experts rated the least abstract works more preferably, while abstraction level did not matter to the experts. [65]Across both groups, the eye paths showed more fixations within the abstract work, but each fixation was shorter in time. [65] Expertise influences how participants thought about works, but did not influence at all. [65]

In another study using eye-movement patterns to investigate how experts view art, participants were shown to work on the subject and asked to do so. [66] Participants’ eye movements were tracked as they were looked at the images or tried to memorize them, and their recall for the memorized images was recorded. [66] The researchers found no difference in the fixing of the frequency or the time between picture types for experts and nonexperts. [66]However, across sessions, the non-experts had more short bindings while free scanning the works, and fewer long fixations while trying to memorize; experts followed the opposite pattern. [66]There are no significant difference in the recollection of the images across groups, except for experts who are more abstract than non-experts, and more pictorial details. [66] These results show that people with arts expertise view images that are less than non-experts, and can recall more details about images they have previously seen. [66]

Levels of abstraction

Aesthetic reactions to art can be measured as arousal, liking, emotional content, and understanding. The art can be rated on its levels of abstraction or place in time. An expert examines the effects of these factors on their emotional valence , arousal, liking, and comprehension of abstract, modern, and classical art works. [67] Experts demonstrated a higher degree of satisfaction with higher ratings, except for arousal with classical works. [67] Classical artworks yielded the highest understanding ratings, with abstract art receiving the lowest values. [67]However, this is the highest value for classical and modern art, while arousal is highest for abstract works. [67] Although they have a higher rating, each factor has a greater influence on their ratings than those of the experts. [67]

Another experiment examined the effect of color and degree of realism on the perception of art with differing levels of expertise. Groups of experts, relative experts, and non-experts viewed stimuli consisting of generated versions of figurative paints varying in color and abstraction. [68] Participants rated the stimuli on their overall preference, abstractness, color properties, balance, and complexity. [68] Figurative pictures were preferred over abstract pictures with decreasing expertise and colored pictures were preferred over black-and-white pictures. [68] However, experts were more likely to prefer black-and-white pictures than non-experts and relative experts. [68]This suggests that experts can view art with cognitive models, while non-experts view art looking for familiarity and pleasure. [68]

Other factors

An experiment studying the effect of expertise on the perception and interpretation of art and the history of art. Then, they grouped them into whatever labels they thought to be appropriate. [69] The data was coded to classify the categorizations and compared between experts and non-experts. [69] Experts broke down their classifications into more groups than the non-experts and categorized by style, while the non-experts depended on personal experiences and feelings. [69]

This style-related processing, which leads to a mastery of the artwork, is important in viewing modern abstract art and is affected by expertise. [70] Participants viewed and rated their paintings on the subject of painting, such as artistic technique, stylistic features, and the materials used. [70] The next day, participants viewed new paintings, saw a blank screen, and estimated how long they had viewed the paintings. [70] Participants also completed questionnaires including interest in art, a questionnaire indicating expertise in art, and the “Positive and Negative Affect Schedule” mood questionnaire. [70]The effects of style-related information depended on art expertise, where non-experts liked the paintings after receiving information about the paintings and the experts liked the paintings less after receiving style-related information. [70] Explained style information provoked mood changes in liking, where the Positive Positive Affect group liked the paintings. [70] Art expertise did not, however, affect the estimates of presentation time.

Title information

Titles do not simply function as means of identification, but also as guides to the pleasurable process of interpretation and understanding works of art. [71]Changing title information about a painting does not seem to affect the subject. However, titles influence a painting’s perceived meaning. In one study, participants were instructed to describe paintings while using flashlight where they were looking. The participants repeated this task for the same set of paintings in two sessions. During the second session, some of the paintings were presented with new titles to evaluate the consistency in their descriptions. As expected, subjects did not change where their eye-gaze focused, but they did change their descriptions by making them more consistent with a given title. [72]

Even though descriptions might be fluctuating, aesthetically appreciating both abstract and representative art remains stable, regardless of different title information. [73] This suggests that word / image relations can not be separated from one another. [72]

A famous example of title confusion That altered a work’s title / image relationship, and THUS icts ostensive meaning, is a painting titled The images betrayal ( The treachery of pictures ), by René Magritte , That Is Often Referred to as “This is not a pipe “. It contains an image of a pipe as well as the legend “This is not a pipe,” even though it was not meant to be its title. In this case, two different understandings of the artists’ intentions and the content depend on which one is chosen to go with it. [74]

Overall, random titles, other than the original, [75] Elaborative, as opposed to descriptive, titles are particularly important in helping viewers assign meaning to abstract art. Descriptive titles increase understanding of an art form when viewed with an image for a short period of time (less than 10 seconds). Because art can have a variety of multi-leveled meanings, titles and other additional information can add to its meaningfulness and accordingly, its hedonic value. [71]


Discoveries from the psychology of art can be applied to various other fields of study. [76] [77] The creative process of art yields a great deal of insight about the mind. One can obtain information about work ethics, motivation, and inspiration from an artist’s work process. These general aspects can be transferred to other areas of one’s life. Work ethic in art especially, can have a significant impact on one’s overall productivity elsewhere. There is a potential in any kind of work that encourages the aesthetic frame of mind. Moreover, art defies any definite boundaries. The same applies to any such work that is aesthetically experienced. [16]

The application of psychology can improve visual literacy .


The psychology of art can be criticized for many reasons. Art is not considered a science, and can be scrutinized for its accuracy and relativity. There is also a great deal of criticism about art as it can be considered subjective rather than objective. It embodies the artist’s emotions in an observable manner, and the audience interprets the artwork in multiple ways. The aims of an artist differ dramatically from the aims of a scientist. The scientist means to propose one outcome to a problem, the result of an artist means to give multiple interpretations of an object. The inspirations of an artist are fueled by his / her experiences, perceptions, and perspectives of the world art movements such as Expressionism is known for the artist’s release of emotions, tension, pressure, and inner spiritual forces that are transcribed to external conditions. Art comes from within oneself, and it is expressed in the external world for the entertainment of others. Everyone can appreciate a piece of artwork because it speaks to each of the unique ways-therein lies the criticism of subjectivity.[78]

In addition, the aesthetic experience of art is strongly criticized because it can not be scientifically determined. It is completely subjective, and it links to an individual’s bias. It can not be fundamentally measured in tangible forms. In contrast, aesthetic experiences can be deemed “self-motivating” and “self-closing”. [16]