Covert painting simulations influence aesthetic appreciation of artworks

December 10, 2012

New research published in Psychological Science investigates the ways in which the physical state of our bodies may play a role in shaping what we think, feel, and perceive.

How does art create aesthetic pleasure?

Drawing from existing theory, Helmut Leder of the University of Vienna and his colleagues hypothesized that experiencing a physical resonance with the movements that the artist made when producing the artwork may be one source of aesthetic empathy and, therefore, pleasure.

To test this hypothesis, the researchers asked participants to rate the of neoimpressionist, pointillist-style paintings and postimpressionist, stroke-style paintings from the late 19th century. One group was instructed to mimic the stippling or stroke-style movements five minutes before viewing the paintings, while another group mimicked the movements while they were rating the paintings.

Those participants who made stippling motions while rating the paintings found the pointillist paintings more aesthetically pleasing, whereas those who mimicked stroking while rating the paintings found the stroke-style paintings more aesthetically pleasing.

According to the researchers, these results suggest that activating associated with the same movements that the artist made when producing the work may influence how viewers experience and perceive works of art.

Explore further: Aesthetic appeal may have neurological link to contemplation and self-assessment

More information:

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Elderly may face increased dementia risk after a disaster

October 24, 2016

Elderly people who were uprooted from damaged or destroyed homes and who lost touch with their neighbors after the 2011 tsunami in Japan were more likely to experience increased symptoms of dementia than those who were able ...

Research examines role of early-life stress in adult illness

October 24, 2016

Scientists have long known that chronic exposure to psychosocial stress early in life can lead to an increased vulnerability later in life to diseases linked to immune dysfunction and chronic inflammation, including arthritis, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.