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An Investigation on the Influence of Extrinsic and Intrinsic Properties on Outcomes of the Aesthetic Experience

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

The study of empirical aesthetics is the systematic examination of the unique psychological experiences that arises when people explore and interact with art. Empirical aesthetics makes a distinction between the extrinsic properties of art, those things inherent to the art piece such as its physical features, and the intrinsic properties of the viewer, such as a person’s expertise or traits that contribute to individual differences when viewing the art piece. This dissertation reports on three experiments that evaluate how extrinsic and intrinsic properties influence attention on art and how people evaluate perceive complexity of and preference for art. Experiment 1 investigates how blur implementation affected the distribution of attention on visual art through a change blindness task. The results show that blur implementation boosts the saliency of areas of interest (AOIs) only when applied liberally everywhere on the art piece except the AOI. Experiment 2 examines how well salience models can predict the locations of human eye fixations and scanpaths. The results suggest that people tend to use extrinsic properties more often to guide their attention across an art piece for the assumed first viewing. Human scanpaths were more similar to each other compared to what previous studies had reported for repeated viewings of an art piece. Additionally, salience model scanpaths were less similar than those obtained from observers, indicating that they do not weight the relative salience of regions the same as humans. Experiment 3 investigates how an individual’s Autism Quotient (AQ) affects evaluations of perceived complexity and preference. Although we found little influence of AQ level on these measures, the results suggest that it may be possible to explain earlier, contradictory result relating complexity to preferences using a set-point model. These three experiments show the complexities of how extrinsic and intrinsic properties can influence difference outcomes of the aesthetic experience. The aesthetic experience is not simply affected only by extrinsic properties or intrinsic properties alone – the interaction of these properties creates the unique experience people have when they view art.

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