Based on findings that fluency of mental operations is hedonically marked and associated with more
favorable evaluations of the processed target (Reber, Schwarz, & Winkielman, 2004a; Winkielman,
Schwarz, Fazendeiro, & Reber, 2003) we investigated the contribution of such fluency effects for
aesthetic appreciation. Using bogus titles that either facilitated or hindered semantic processing of
paintings, fluency was investigated for higher-order cognitive operations on the level of meaning
assignment. A cross-modal conceptual priming procedure was used, in which semantically related or
unrelated titles, or “no-title” letter strings preceded the presentation of paintings with different degrees
of visual abstraction. Results were in accordance with a fluency-affect-liking hypothesis. Related titles
produced highest appreciation followed by no titles and unrelated titles conditions. This effect was
moderated by the degree of abstraction of the paintings, with fluency effects especially prominent for
representational paintings. Results indicated that aesthetic appreciation is partly grounded in the processing
dynamics of the viewer and that the phenomenal experience of cognitive-fluency is an intrinsic
source for the hedonic value of art.
We investigated whether art is distinguished from other real world objects in human cognition, in that art allows for a special memorial representation and identification based on artists' specific stylistic appearances. Testing art-experienced viewers, converging empirical evidence from three experiments, which have proved sensitive to addressing the question of initial object recognition, suggest that identification of visual art is at the subordinate level of the producing artist. Specifically, in a free naming task it was found that art-objects as opposed to non-art-objects were most frequently named with subordinate level categories, with the artist's name as the most frequent category (Experiment I). In a category-verification task (Experiment 2), art-objects were recognized faster than non-art-objects on the subordinate level with the artist's name. In a conceptual priming task, subordinate primes of artists' names facilitated matching responses to art-objects but subordinate primes did not facilitate responses to non-art-objects (Experiment 3). Collectively, these results suggest that the artist's name has a special status in the memorial representation of visual art and serves as a predominant entry point in recognition in art perception.
Empathy measures that involve both cognitive and affective aspects of empathy are scarce. The aim of the work presented in this paper was to develop an instrument for the assessment of both aspects of dispositional empathy in children aged eight to fourteen, based on a variety of existing measures and results from the validation of a first preliminary version.