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How affective cues influence the perceived value of artwork

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We proposed that the effect of the hedonic principle, whereby people try to maximize pleasure and minimize pain, may not hold in the context of art (e.g., drawings, poetry). We conducted 4 experiments to test the hypothesis that sad artwork would be perceived as more valuable than happy artwork, on the basis that affective cues may be used to judge whether or not an artwork is unique. Results of Experiments 1 and 2 showed that participants valued sad artwork more highly than happy artwork. In Experiment 3 we examined if uniqueness perception mediated the effect of affective cues on perceived value, and in Experiment 4 we tested how different evaluation modes (joint vs. separate) moderated this effect. The results indicated that in the separate evaluation mode, participants had a higher perceived value of, and stronger preference for, happy (vs. sad) artwork.
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Keywords: affective cues; artwork; evaluation mode; hedonism; perceived value; uniqueness perception

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University

Publication date: January 23, 2019

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