Visualizing the Impact of Art: An Update and Comparison of Current Psychological Models of Art Experience

By Mariona Borràs on

The last decade has witnessed a renaissance of empirical and psychological approaches to art study, especially regarding cognitive models of art processing experience. This new emphasis on modeling has often become the basis for our theoretical understanding of human interaction with art. Models also often define areas of focus and hypotheses for new empirical research, and are increasingly important for connecting psychological theory to discussions of the brain. However, models are often made by different researchers, with quite different emphases or visual styles. Inputs and psychological outcomes may be differently considered, or can be under-reported with regards to key functional components. Thus, we may lose the major theoretical improvements and ability for comparison that can be had with models. To begin addressing this, this paper presents a theoretical assessment, comparison, and new articulation of a selection of key contemporary cognitive or information-processing-based approaches detailing the mechanisms underlying the viewing of art. We review six major models in contemporary psychological aesthetics. We in turn present redesigns of these models using a unified visual form, in some cases making additions or creating new models where none had previously existed. We also frame these approaches in respect to their targeted outputs (e.g., emotion, appraisal, physiological reaction) and their strengths within a more general framework of early, intermediate, and later processing stages. This is used as a basis for general comparison and discussion of implications and future directions for modeling, and for theoretically understanding our engagement with visual art.


Login or register to download this file