Artful terms: A study on aesthetic word usage for visual art versus film and music

Professorship/Faculty: General Psychology and Methodology  
Authors: Augustin, M. Dorothee; Carbon, Claus-Christian  ; Wagemans, Johan
Title of the Journal: i-Perception : open-access journal of human, animal, and machine perception
ISSN: 2041-6695
Publisher Information: London : Pion
Year of publication: 2012
Volume: 3
Issue: 5
Pages / Size: 319 - 337 : graph. Darst.
Language(s): English
Document Type: Article
Despite the importance of the arts in human life, psychologists still know relatively little
about what characterises their experience for the recipient. The current research approaches this
problem by studying people’s word usage in aesthetics, with a focus on three important art forms:
visual art, film, and music. The starting point was a list of 77 words known to be useful to describe
aesthetic impressions of visual art (Augustin et al 2012, Acta Psychologica 139 187–201). Focusing
on ratings of likelihood of use, we examined to what extent word usage in aesthetic descriptions
of visual art can be generalised to film and music. The results support the claim of an interplay
of generality and specificity in aesthetic word usage. Terms with equal likelihood of use for all
art forms included beautiful, wonderful, and terms denoting originality. Importantly, emotion-related
words received higher ratings for film and music than for visual art. To our knowledge this is direct
evidence that aesthetic experiences of visual art may be less affectively loaded than, for example,
experiences of music. The results render important information about aesthetic word usage in the
realm of the arts and may serve as a starting point to develop tailored measurement instruments for
different art forms.
Keywords: Empirical aesthetics
Release Date: 11. December 2012