Processing Fluency and Aesthetic Pleasure: Is Beauty in the Perceiver's Processing Experience?

Personality and Social Psychology Review, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 364-382, 2004

25 Pages Posted: 5 Nov 2008

See all articles by Rolf Reber

Rolf Reber

University of Bergen

Norbert Schwarz

University of Southern California - Department of Psychology

Piotr Winkielman

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Date Written: November 4, 2008

Abstract

We propose that aesthetic pleasure is a function of the perceiver's processing dynamics: The more fluently perceivers can process an object, the more positive their aesthetic response. We review variables known to influence aesthetic judgments, such as figural goodness, figure-ground contrast, stimulus repetition, symmetry, and prototypicality, and trace their effects to changes in processing fluency. Other variables that influence processing fluency, like visual or semantic priming, similarly increase judgments of aesthetic pleasure. Our proposal provides an integrative framework for the study of aesthetic pleasure and sheds light on the interplay between early preferences versus cultural influences on taste, preferences for both prototypical and abstracted forms, and the relation between beauty and truth. In contrast to theories that trace aesthetic pleasure to objective stimulus features per se, we propose that beauty is grounded in the processing experiences of the perceiver, which are in part a function of stimulus properties.

Keywords: aesthetics, beauty, processing fluency, psychology, truth

Suggested Citation

Reber, Rolf and Schwarz, Norbert and Winkielman, Piotr, Processing Fluency and Aesthetic Pleasure: Is Beauty in the Perceiver's Processing Experience? (November 4, 2008). Personality and Social Psychology Review, Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 364-382, 2004. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1295305

Rolf Reber (Contact Author)

University of Bergen ( email )

Departmant of Biological and Medical Psychology
Jonas Lies vei 91, 8th floor
N-5009 Bergen, Hordaland N-5009
Norway
+47 55 58 31 81 (Phone)
+47 55 58 98 72 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.psyfa.uib.no/index.php?valg=vis_person&person_id=531

Norbert Schwarz

University of Southern California - Department of Psychology ( email )

3620 S. McClintock Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90089-1061
United States

Piotr Winkielman

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

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