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Open Access Empirical Approaches to Studying Art Experience

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Art experience means the rich experience of artistic objects that are mostly embedded in situational, social, and cultural contexts: for instance when encountering art in art galleries or museums. Art experience lets us reflect on the content, the style, and the artist behind the artwork—moreover, it lets us reflect about the percept, perception, the world, ultimately: about us. Current works in the field of empirical aesthetics unfortunately often ignore context factors that are so important for such deep and far-reaching experiences. Here I intend to refer to the different paths of measuring art experience via Path #1 by testing within the ecological valid context of art galleries via field studies, via Path #2 by simulating certain contextual and perceptual factors in a lab-oriented study design and via Path #3 by testing art-related material in labs without paying attention to such factors. The way we research art experience drastically changes the quality and nature of the output, especially if we ignore certain essential factors which are typically involved when encountering art galleries in real life via Path #3—mainly because participants do not show the typical motivation, interest and effort which they would typically face in art galleries. Furthermore, because the depiction quality of artworks, the context and the social situation in which they are inspected is fundamentally different in the lab, the respective impression is also very different. As most research ignores such factors, we might often be misled by the results of such studies; especially when the extraordinary and unique cultural status that makes artworks so different to ordinary objects is ignored. The paper aims to guide researchers in finding the right study paradigm and best measures to answer their regarding research questions most adequately.
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Affiliations: 1: Department of General Psychology and Methodology, University of Bamberg, Germany 2: Research Group EPÆG (Ergonomics, Psychological Æsthetics, Gestalt), Bamberg, Germany 3: Bamberg Graduate School of Affective and Cognitive Sciences (BaGrACS), Bamberg, Germany

Appeared or available online: 13 March 2019

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