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Title: Lateral compositional effects on aesthetic preference
Author: Bode, C.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7656 8145
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2018
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Composition, the conscious arrangement of elements within a visual image, is an important principle in art and is thought to be an integral component in eliciting affective aesthetic responses in judgments and appreciation of art. In this thesis I present four studies that give significant new insights on how human aesthetic preference for visual art is affected by compositional lateral asymmetries, and intrinsic factors such as symmetry, complexity and movement. Chapter 1 introduces the theoretical foundations of aesthetic preference and composition as context for the research, followed by an overview of the chapters, methodology and main findings. The research is divided into two main areas. Chapters 2-3 explore preferences in nonexperts for symmetries and lateral asymmetries in static images (novel abstract patterns and photographic self-portraits). Chapters 4-5 analyse asymmetrical biases in cinema films. Chapter 2 revisits previous research on British and Egyptian symmetry preferences using novel abstract patterns, and measurements of complexity. Findings supported a degree of universality for symmetry preference, but some differences in preferences for complexity. Chapter 3 examines whether previously reported preferences for a right-facing bias in painted self-portraits generalise to self-portraits by untrained subjects. Findings confirmed a similar bias, thus supporting a biological basis for side biases. Chapter 4 assesses whether mirror reversal of films affects viewer preference. Viewers did not detect the reversal of the film, but a composition specific exposure effect was observed in those who watched the original version. In Chapter 5, an analysis of posing position and orientation in film actors confirmed an inward-facing bias, a preference for left-to-right directionality in movement, but no left cheek bias. A trend implicated the influence of reading direction in the Egyptian data. Overall these findings confirmed some known preferences in direction and side biases in static and moving images, and provide new evidence in support of a biological basis for side biases independent of expertise. Importantly, they highlight some cultural differences in preferences for compositional symmetries that may be linked to reading direction, and a difference in preference for complexity. Defining what factors relating to composition determine preference is key to understanding human aesthetic preference and decisions in the appreciation and production of visual art. This thesis provides a significant contribution towards that goal.
Supervisor: Bertamini, Marco Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral