Aesthetic Judgements of Abstract Dynamic Configurations

in Art & Perception
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To date, aesthetic preference for abstract patterns has mainly been examined in the relation to static stimuli. However, dynamic art forms (e.g., motion pictures, kinetic art) are arguably more powerful in producing emotional responses. To start the exploration of aesthetic preferences for dynamic stimuli (stripped of meaning and context) we conducted three experiments. Symmetrical or random configurations were created. Each line element had a local rotation, and the whole configuration also underwent a global transformation (horizontal translation, rotation, expansion, horizontal shear). Participants provided explicit preference ratings for these patterns. As expected results showed a preference for dynamic symmetrical patterns over random. When global transformations were compared, expansion was the preferred dynamic transformation whilst participants liked the horizontal shear transformation the least. Overall, these results show that preference for symmetry persists and is enhanced for dynamic stimuli, and that there are systematic preferences for global transformations.

Aesthetic Judgements of Abstract Dynamic Configurations

in Art & Perception



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    Examples of each transformation. (A) Expansion/contraction. The pattern initially expanded before retracting and then expanding again to return to the centre of the screen. (B) Horizontal shear. The top half of the pattern stretched to the right hand side of the screen, whilst the bottom half stretched to the left hand side. The top and bottom halves then changed direction and stretched to the opposite sides of the screen. (C) Rotation. The pattern rotated 90-degrees to the right then 180-degrees to the left before performing a 90-degree rotation to the right in order to return to its original position. (D) Horizontal translation. The pattern started off at the centre before moving to the right hand side of the screen. It then moved to the left hand side of the screen before returning to the centre. (E) Static. The pattern remained in the centre of the screen however, each of the individual elements rotated. This figure is published in colour in the online version. In addition, the movies corresponding to these static icons are available at

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    Mean aesthetic ratings for each of the transformations in Experiment 1. Red bars represent transformations for symmetrical patterns whilst blue represent random patterns. p<0.05; ∗∗p<0.01 with static used as a baseline. This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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    Mean aesthetic ratings for each of the transformations in Experiment 2. Red bars represent transformations for symmetrical patterns whilst blue represent random patterns. p<0.05; ∗∗p<0.01 with static used as a baseline. This figure is published in colour in the online version.

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    Mean aesthetic ratings for each of the transformations in Experiment 3. Red bars represent transformations for symmetrical patterns whilst blue represent random patterns. p<0.05; ∗∗p<0.01 with static used as a baseline. This figure is published in colour in the online version.


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