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Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts - Vol 11, Iss 3

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Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts is devoted to promoting scholarship on how individuals participate in the creation and appreciation of artistic endeavor.
Copyright 2017 American Psychological Association
  • Aesthetics, creativity, and the arts in everyday environments.
    Many readers of this journal are researchers who conduct studies on the psychology of aesthetics, creativity, and the arts. And researchers love research labs, no matter how dark and dingy and crusty they might be. Laboratory-based research will always be a pivotal part of our science, but lab research can tell us only so much. This special issue is devoted to research conducted in everyday environments, defined broadly. These 10 articles are intended to showcase research that goes beyond the lab. These articles represent a wide range of topics, theories, and contexts. The editor hopes these articles inspire readers to think about how the psychology of aesthetics, creativity, and arts works in everyday life—and, perhaps, to extend their future research beyond their own lab’s doorway. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Beyond the lab: An examination of key factors influencing interaction with ‘real’ and museum-based art.
    The authors present a comprehensive review and theoretical discussion of factors that could influence our interaction with museum-based art. Art is an important stimulus that reveals core insights about human behavior and thought. Art perception is in fact often considered one of the few uniquely human phenomena whereby we process multiple types of information, experience myriad emotions, make evaluations, and where these elements not only occur but dynamically combine. Art viewing often occurs in museums, which—in conjunction with “real” artworks—may contribute greatly to experience. However, to date, psychological aesthetics studies have only begun to consider in-museum examinations, focusing instead on highly controlled laboratory-based studies, and leading to calls for a need to shift to ecologically valid examinations. To provide a foundation for such research, the authors consider what key psychological differences may be expected between original/reproduced and museum/lab-based art, and why the art experience may be different when occurring within the museum context. They also review factors that should be controlled for, or which may raise new, unexplored areas for empirical research. These include 3 main levels: the artwork, the viewer, and physical aspects of the museum. The authors connect these factors to a model of art processing and relate to findings from sociology and general museum studies, which have largely been overlooked in psychological aesthetics research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Do you see what I see? An investigation of the aesthetic experience in the laboratory and museum.
    Two studies examined people’s aesthetic experiences of art in the laboratory and the museum. The theoretical framework guiding the research was based on the Mirror Model of Art (Tinio, 2013), which proposes that the process of artistic creation and artistic reception mirror each other. Study 1 used a think-aloud protocol to assess people’s natural and spontaneous reactions while looking at art. Study 2 examined whether presenting information about an artwork in a certain order (lower-order to higher-order information or higher-order to lower-order information) enhances aspects of the aesthetic experience and retention of information about art. Studies 1 and 2 were each conducted both in a laboratory and in a museum. The results replicate those of previous research that showed that the aesthetic experience of art is enhanced in the museum as compared with the laboratory setting. In addition, the results show that the effects of presenting information in a certain order (lower-order to higher-order information) depend on the context of presentation: museum visitors were better able to remember information about art than laboratory participants. Overall, the findings suggest that the Mirror Model is a good representation of how people naturally process art, but that certain aspects of the model could be optimized. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Exploring everyday encounters with street art using a multimethod design.
    In a combination of an outdoor and a laboratory study, we tested how people encountered sculptures and graffiti in an everyday setting. To accomplish an ecologically valid design, we let 12 participants engage in a free exploration walk at the Danube Canal in Vienna, Austria, equipped with a mobile eye tracker. To further investigate our field measures, we conducted a follow-up laboratory session, in which the participants commented on first-person videos from their own walks. After watching the video, participants rated various views from their walk for aesthetic liking and interest. We found that participants spent up to 50% of the overall fixation time exploring aesthetic objects and artworks. Further, aesthetic liking and interest for certain views predicted gaze behavior during the walk. The free exploration task gave the participants the freedom to interact with the environment and yielded valuable results about the modalities of attention deployment in a real setting. Our study shows that the combination of field and laboratory testing is feasible and can be beneficial for a more ecologically valid study of empirical aesthetics. Furthermore, our findings illustrate the importance of art displays in everyday life and encourage the use of art, supporting the urban art movement and its stance as a public asset. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Connected to create: A social network analysis of friendship ties and creativity.
    The purpose of this article was to examine the relationship between friendship ties and creativity. Based on the homophily hypothesis, we predicted friendship ties would more likely occur between people similar to each other on creativity-related attributes. We also predicted students would be more likely to report friendship ties with peers who have higher creativity scores in general. Across a pilot and primary study, we examined the relationship between friendship strength among high school students in a pilot study (Study 1) and friendship nominations among elementary school students in a primary study (Study 2) with creativity. In Study 2, but not Study 1, we found that friendship nominations were more likely to occur when scores on a creativity task were similar. In both studies, we found that popularity was positively related to originality (Study 1) and creativity (Study 2). The results indicate that elementary school students nominated peers as friends who are similar to them when it comes to creativity and that there is a positive relationship between popularity and creativity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • “Engineering” student creativity in a probability and statistics course: Investigating perceived versus actual creativity.
    Perceived versus actual creative competence is a growing area of research that lacks investigation in everyday environments such as the college classroom. This article reports on the results of a mixed methods educational study of 55 undergraduate engineering students enrolled in a probability and statistics course. The quantitative part of the study measured students’ perceived creativity using the Beliefs about Creativity Scales, and explored the relationship between these perceptions to actual creativity, which were ratings of the degree of originality and fluency of student responses to 4 open-ended assignments that had been developed for the study. The qualitative part of the study included focus group interviews with students about the perceived relevance of creativity for learning. Results show that students’ perceived creativity had varied relationships with actual creativity. Of note, creative performance on 1 of the open-ended assignments strongly predicted midterm scores in the course. Examination of perceived creativity found that fixed mindsets about creativity were negatively related to performance on the assignment testing real world problem solving, which is consistent with previous research. In the focus group interviews, students believed creativity was very important for their identity as professional engineers, but held mixed beliefs about being creative in the course. These results are discussed in terms of self-theories, learning and mindset research as well as future directions for researching perceived versus actual creativity in the college classroom. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • From moment-to-moment to day-to-day: Experience sampling and diary investigations in adults’ everyday creativity.
    Two studies examined the dynamics and predictors of momentary creative activity among adults. Study 1 (N = 74) applied the experience sampling methodology (ESM) to investigate the likelihood of engaging in creative activity and explain its variability using both within-person predictors (experienced emotions) and between person-predictors (personality and creative activity). This study also demonstrated that the likelihood of momentary creative activity during a random week at the age 52 is predicted by participants’ intelligence measured 4 decades ago. Study 2 extended these findings: In a 2-week-long diary study, participants (N = 433) reported their everyday creative behaviors and activity in the spheres related to arts (painting, composing music, writing), science (writing scientific articles, solving technical problems), and everyday functioning (cooking, blogging). Active positive emotions generally predicted day-to-day variability of creative behavior, whereas the role of individual-differences was more complex and domain-specific. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Creating art: An experience sampling study in the domain of moving image art.
    This study investigated work-related behaviors and feelings in the process of creating art. In a collaborative effort by creativity researchers and artistic researchers, we invited artists to create a short film or video for an international art competition and monitored them for 2 weeks while producing the artwork. The artists provided daily reflections on their work process via smartphone or online experience sampling, and we assessed relevant person data via an online questionnaire. Multilevel models were used to explain variability in artwork advancement beyond linear increases over time. Artwork advancement was predicted by deliberate engagement, engrossment in details and enjoyment of work, and by reduced work-related feelings of anxiety and “walking in a fog.” Between-person analyses revealed that artists with higher past artistic achievement and lower agreeableness produced artworks of higher quality in terms of the evaluations by the competition jury. This study demonstrates the feasibility of experience sampling methods for the investigation of extended creative work and highlights some general processes and relevant traits in the process of creating art. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Measuring mental music: Comparing retrospective and experience sampling methods for assessing musical imagery.
    Musical imagery—hearing music in your mind that isn’t playing in the environment—has been investigated using both retrospective methods (self-report scales of typical experiences) and in vivo methods (assessing inner music as it happens in daily life). But because musical imagery is often fleeting and on the fringe of conscious attention, retrospective self-report measures of inner music might correspond poorly with people’s actual experience of inner music. The present research thus compared reports from a retrospective measure of musical imagery (the Involuntary Musical Imagery Scale) and a week of intensive experience sampling in a sample of 132 young adults. For 7 days, participants were signaled 14 times daily between 8 a.m. and midnight. Both methods assessed the frequency and length of imagery episodes and the subjective qualities of the experience: its valence, whether people moved along with the imagery, and if the imagery helped their current activities. People’s retrospective reports of the frequency and length of their musical imagery experiences were more strongly related to their in-the-moment reports, whereas their retrospective reports of the qualities of inner music experiences were largely unrelated to in-the-moment reports. In general, musical expertise was more strongly related to the in-the-moment reports of musical imagery than their retrospective counterparts. The gap between how people actually experience inner music in daily life and their beliefs about their experiences suggests that musical imagery, like other subtle and fleeting experiences, is better captured by in vivo methods. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Unearthing the creative thinking process: Fresh insights from a think-aloud study of garden design.
    A number of theories of creativity have converged on the idea that creative thinking entails shifting between different processes. We attempt to build on recent theoretical developments through empirical work to examine creativity in the everyday environment of a garden designer. We asked designers with different levels of expertise; a matched group of fine artists; and a nondesigner, nonartist control group to work on a garden design. We asked them to “think aloud” as they designed and recorded audio and video. We coded resultant verbal segments as indicating the operation of different types of underlying thinking process identified in recent theoretical work, mapped these segments to the video of the designs, and conducted Markov chain analysis to explore how thinking processes shifted as the design evolved. Finally, we examined the extent to which different types of thinking process shifts predicted the creativity of the final garden designs as determined by experts. We found that shifts between associative and analytic thinking processes predicted design creativity, but only when the operation of these 2 processes were tightly coupled in time. The positive association between shifting and creativity was strongest when analytic thinking processed affective content. These types of shifting were also elevated at times when a subset of participants switched between working on different designs—a strategy that positively predicted design creativity. Findings suggest expansion of mode-shifting theories of creative thinking to include the importance of close coupling between different modes of thinking and of an analytic mode processing affective content. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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  • Black holes and vacuum cleaners: Using metaphor, relevance, and inquiry in labels for space images.
    This study extended research on the development of explanatory labels for astronomical images for the nonexpert lay public. The research questions addressed how labels with leading questions/metaphors and relevance to everyday life affect comprehension of the intended message for deep space images, the desire to learn more, and the aesthetic appreciation of images. Participants were a convenience sample of 1,921 respondents solicited from a variety of websites and through social media who completed an online survey that used 4 high-resolution images as stimuli: Sagittarius A*, Solar Flare, Cassiopeia A, and the Pinwheel Galaxy (M101). Participants were randomly assigned initially to 1 of 3 label conditions: the standard label originally written for the image, a label with a leading question containing a metaphor related to the information for the image, or a label that contained a fact about the image relevant to everyday life. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 image and compared all labels for that image. Open-ended items at various points asked participants to pose questions to a hypothetical astronomer. Main findings were that the relevance condition was significantly more likely to increase wanting to learn more; the original label was most likely to increase overall appreciation; and smart phone users were more likely to want to learn more and report increased levels of appreciation. Results are discussed in terms of the need to examine individual viewer characteristics and goals in creating different labels for different audiences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
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