Abstract

Jacobsen, T., & Höfel, L. (2001). Aesthetics electrified: An Analysis of Descriptive Symmetry and Evaluative Aesthetic Judgment Processes using event-related brain potentials. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 19(2), 177-190.

Aesthetics electrified: An Analysis of Descriptive Symmetry and Evaluative Aesthetic Judgment Processes using event-related brain potentials.

An event-related brain potential (ERP) study comparing descriptive and evaluative judgment processes is reported. Using identical stimuli to isolate perceptual from judgmental processes, the two judgment types were operationalized by employing symmetry and aesthetic judgments. Electrophysiological activity was recorded while participants viewed newly designed two-dimensional patterns in a pre-cued task setting. Judgment analyses of a Phase I test and performance in the main experiment revealed detailed paramorphic models of the individual judges’ cognitive systems as well as group models. Symmetry showed a strong positive correlation with judgments and was the most important cue in every case. Descriptive judgments were performed faster than evaluative judgments. The ERPs revealed a phasic frontal negativity in the non-aesthetic condition as well as a sustained posterior negativity in the symmetrical condition. All conditions showed late positive potentials (LPP). Evaluative judgment LPPs revealed a more pronounced right lateralization. It was concluded that descriptive symmetry judgment and evaluative aesthetic judgment processes differ dramatically and recruit, at least in part, different neural machinery.



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