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'Can ambiguity be appreciated?

Testing hypotheses on experiences in aesthetic episodes'

Art is a part of human life that at least has a history of 70,000 years, and despite the large varieties in what is considered art, art is universally known in all cultures (Dissanayake, 1995). Art provides excellent opportunities, to study human experience elicited by man-made artefacts (Leder, 2006). From a psychological perspective, art experiences are the results of different stages of information processing which produce different cognitive and affective states, but also unique psychological states. These states are marked by certain emotional qualities, such as surprise (Silvia, 2009), excitement (Chatterjee, 2003) or ambiguity (Leder, Belke, Oeberst & Augustin, 2004; Jakesch & Leder, 2009). Experiencing and appreciating states of ambiguity is one of these special aspects, in which art experiences might be particularly distinct (Leder et al., 2004). In this project, we systematically test ambiguity as a possible source of positive aesthetic experience based on previous results (Jakesch & Leder, 2009).

This project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund

(Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung, Opens external link in new windowFWF).

Project duration: Oktober 2011 - September 2016

Projectnumber P23538-G21

Chatterjee, A. (2003). Prospects for a Cognitive Neuroscience for Visual Aesthetics. Bulletin of Psychology and the Arts, 4(2), 55-60.

Dissanayake, E. (1995). Homo aestheticus: where art comes from and why. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Jakesch, M., & Leder, H. (2009). Finding meaning in art: Preferred levels of ambiguity in art appreciation. The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 62(11), 2105 - 2112.

Leder, H. (2006). Editorial: Aesthetics: State of the Art and Future Perspectives Psychology Science, 48(2), 113-106.

Leder, H., Belke, B., Oeberst, A., & Augustin, M. D. (2004). A model of aesthetic appreciation and aesthetic judgments. British Journal of Psychology 95, 489–508.

Silvia, P. J. (2009). Looking Past Pleasure: Anger, Confusion, Disgust, Pride, Surprise, and Other Unusual Aesthetic Emotions. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, & the Arts, 3(1), 48-51.

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