Cognitive fluency : High-level processing dynamics in art appreciation

Professorship/Faculty: General Psychology and Methodology  
Authors: Belke, Benno; Leder, Helmut; Strobach, Tilo; Carbon, Claus-Christian  
Title of the Journal: Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
ISSN: 1931-3896
Corporate Body: American Psychological Assoc.
Publisher Information: Washington, DC
Year of publication: 2010
Volume: 4
Issue: 4
Pages / Size: 214 - 222
Language(s): English
DOI: 10.1037/a0019648
Document Type: Article
Based on findings that fluency of mental operations is hedonically marked and associated with more
favorable evaluations of the processed target (Reber, Schwarz, & Winkielman, 2004a; Winkielman,
Schwarz, Fazendeiro, & Reber, 2003) we investigated the contribution of such fluency effects for
aesthetic appreciation. Using bogus titles that either facilitated or hindered semantic processing of
paintings, fluency was investigated for higher-order cognitive operations on the level of meaning
assignment. A cross-modal conceptual priming procedure was used, in which semantically related or
unrelated titles, or “no-title” letter strings preceded the presentation of paintings with different degrees
of visual abstraction. Results were in accordance with a fluency-affect-liking hypothesis. Related titles
produced highest appreciation followed by no titles and unrelated titles conditions. This effect was
moderated by the degree of abstraction of the paintings, with fluency effects especially prominent for
representational paintings. Results indicated that aesthetic appreciation is partly grounded in the processing
dynamics of the viewer and that the phenomenal experience of cognitive-fluency is an intrinsic
source for the hedonic value of art.
Keywords: visual art perception
Release Date: 3. December 2012