Social Factors in Aesthetics : Social Conformity Pressure and a Sense of Being Watched Affect Aesthetic Judgments

Faculty/Professorship: General Psychology and Methodology  
Author(s): Hesslinger, Vera M. ; Carbon, Claus-Christian  ; Hecht, Heiko
Title of the Journal: i-Perception
ISSN: 2041-6695
Publisher Information: London
Year of publication: 2017
Volume: 8
Issue: 6
Pages: 1-16
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1177/2041669517736322
The present study is a first attempt to experimentally test the impact of two specific social factors, namely social conformity pressure and a sense of being watched, on participants’ judgments of the artistic quality of aesthetic objects. We manipulated conformity pressure with a test form in which a photograph of each stimulus was presented together with unanimously low (downward pressure) or high quality ratings (upward pressure) of three would-be previous raters. Participants’ sense of being watched was manipulated by testing each of them in two settings, one of which contained an eyespots stimulus. Both social factors significantly affected the participants’ judgments—unexpectedly, however, with conformity pressure only working in the downward direction and eyespots leading to an overall downward shift in participants’ judgments. Our findings indicate the relevance of including explicit and implicit social factors in aesthetics research, thus also reminding us of the limitations of overly reductionist approaches to investigating aesthetic perception and experience.
Keywords: eyespots, aesthetic judgments, conformity, social factors, empirical aesthetics
Open Access Journal: Ja
Type: Article
Release Date: 26. January 2023
Project: Open-Access-Publikationsfonds 2012-2020