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Art as Communication:
Employing Gricean Principles of Communication
as a Model for Art Appreciation
Melissa Dolese, Aaron Kozbelt, & Curtis Hardin, The Graduate Center of the City University of
New York and Brooklyn College
Abstract: How and why art elicits different responses from different people remains a contentious topic, with many
unresolved issues. Some have argued that a key aspect of a positive aesthetic experience concerns the ability of viewers
to construct meaning. But why is art viewing an arena for meaning making? We propose that viewers construct meaning
of art in the context of a kind of interpersonal conversation with the artist in which both are tacitly assumed to follow
fundamental conversational rules. Here we apply one well-known intentionalist model of verbal communication, the
Gricean “cooperative principle” and its constituent four conversational maxims, to visual art. We argue that this is an
interesting model to apply to art because it may explain common, qualitatively different, responses to art via tacit
assumptions that the artist is either adhering to the cooperative principle or purposefully opting out of the conversation
with the viewer. Several artistic examples and relevant empirical research are reviewed to show how this perspective
explains the differential experiences art-trained and non-art-trained individuals have of abstract and conceptual art.
Keywords: Gricean model, art preferences, communication, meaning making
“Art is a technique of communication. The image is the most complete technique of all
communication.” -artist Claes Oldenburg
viewer’s ability to construct meaning from a work of art is often regarded as a
significant contributor to aesthetic value (Dissanayake, 1988; Donald, 1991; Humphrey,
1999; Lewis-Williams, 2002; Landau, Greenberg, Solomon, Pyszczynski, & Martens,
2006; Ramachandran & Hirstein, 1999; Russel, 2003). Many avenues to meaning construction in
art have been proposed, including the use of titles, the history of the work, artists’ biographical
information, and viewers’ relating personal and felt experiences to the images. Notably, another
arena for meaning construction is verbal communication. Everyday conversation involves a
dynamic whereby meaning is constructed following the implicit assumption that both parties
intend to be understood. Similarly, the experience of viewing art may be understood as entering
into a kind of communicative exchange with the artist, via the artwork itself. If so, then the
phenomena of communication and meaning-making through viewing artworks may be
understood via some of the same rules governing human conversation.
Multi-disciplinary Approaches to Communication and Art
The constructs of art and communication have been linked in a variety of ways by researchers
and scholars across disciplines. For example, the philosopher John Dewey (1932) rooted
aesthetic experience in terms of interaction with the environment, arguing that meaning arises
through the integration of new and old experiences; artworks as a spur to meaning-making thus
become instruments for communication. Art historian E. H. Gombrich (1972), pursuing the idea
of art as a language, reasoned that art is inefficient as communication due to the lack of a one-to-
one translation of an artist’s expression and the viewer’s reception. More recently, Ramachandran
and Hirstein (1999) took a neuroscience-based perspective on aesthetics, contending that artists
use visual principles to excite our visual systems, in the process communicating or evoking an
emotional response in their viewers. This biological emphasis links to other lines of work on the
importance of embodiment in understanding aesthetic experience. For instance, Johnson (2007)
argued that the quality of meaning derived from an artwork is ultimately based on our embodied
interactions with the environment (even if a language-centered view of aesthetic communication
relegates meaning construction in art to a level below that of language).
Artists themselves have also commented on the general importance of communication
in art, and in particular on how artistic communication may transcend ordinary language and be
particularly potent at expressing emotional information. For instance, Eric Fischl commented on
his sculpture, Tumbling Woman, “I was trying to say something about the way we all feel” (see
The Image
Junod, 2009). Arthur Ganson (2004) stated, “I would go into these private places, and I would
put my ideas and my passions into objectssort of learning how to speak with my hands.
In sum, many have contributed ideas toward an understanding of communication in art.
Art can communicate shared experiences and can therefore communicate meaning. If art is a
form of communication it is theoretically plausible to apply an existing framework of verbal
communication to understand how art may communicate. Among various extant models of verbal
communication (for a review, see Krauss & Fussell, 1996), here we focus on the Gricean maxims
(Grice, 1975) as a particularly useful model for visual art. Current models of human conversation
have deep roots in the work of Paul Grice. Just as E. H. Gombrich (1972), observed that art lacks
a one-to-one translation of an artist’s expression and the viewer’s interpretation, Grice (1975)
observed that the words people use in conversation do not correspond often to the intended
meaning of verbal utterances or to how those utterances are understood (see also Clark & Clark,
1977; Sperber & Wilson, 1996). However, conversations work, in that people do manage to
understand one another. The rules of communication Grice proposed have done well in
understanding meaning construction in verbal conversation. Here we propose to apply them as a
means to understand common, qualitatively different responses to non-representational art.
The Gricean Maxims: An Intentionalist Model of Communication
Grice (1975) proposed that successful communication involves cooperation among interlocutors.
This is summarized in his Cooperative Principle: “make your conversational contribution such as
is required at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk
exchange in which you are engaged” (p. 26). Although the point is subtle, and perhaps
counterintuitive, it is essential to note that Grice is not suggesting conversational prescriptions
for clarity or for etiquette. His point is that people converse with the assumption that both are
adhering to the cooperative principle, uttering words that have an intended meaning and that are
uttered in a way that is assumed to be understandable – otherwise, the conversation ends.
Grice elucidated the Cooperative Principle with four specific maxims of communication.
The maxims are rules that conversational partners obey, assume that their partners obey, and
mutually assume that their partners know that they know that they’re obeying during normal
face-to-face conversation. The fact that people assume others are following these maxims enables
the meaning of a speaker’s utterance to be inferred even though utterances almost never contain
the intended meaning in the text alone. In other words, the maxims provide expectations for
communication, or ways to disambiguate a speaker’s intended meaning from the words actually
uttered. Central to our argument, if at any point a participant in conversation can no longer
sustain the assumption that the cooperative rules are being followed, then the conversation stops,
and the feelings engendered are not pleasant. If one perceives a speaker to be intentionally
unclear or difficult to understand, then feelings of anger, rejection and exclusion may arise.
Indeed, research shows that responses to social rejection are strongly negative, including anger,
physiological arousal, depression, and mutual rejection (e.g., Cheung, Noel, & Hardin, 2011).
Here we introduce the four Gricean maxims in an order that may be most intuitive in
their application to art. The maxims are Relation, Manner, Quality, and Quantity. The maxim of
Relation dictates that interlocutors assume that utterances are intended to be relevant to them at
that point in the conversational exchange. A second maxim, Manner, relates more to how
something is said rather than what is said. Maxims under the category of Manner are: avoid
obscurity of expression, avoid ambiguity, be brief, and be orderly (i.e., express yourself clearly).
In other words, individuals conversing assume that utterances are made in a way intended to
communicate clearly at that point in the conversational exchange. In rare cases in which people
in conversation can no longer sustain the assumption that they are intended to understand the
manner of the utterance, they assume they are being excluded from the conversation. The maxim
of Quality is the rule of truthfulness; it assumes that interlocutors’ utterances are intended to be
truly intelligible – that is, that one is truly intended to understand what the speaker means at that
point in the conversation. Individuals in conversation should not state something that they know
to be false or for which they lack adequate evidence. Finally, the maxim of Quantity involves
making utterances exactly as informative as required – saying neither too much nor too little
All of the Gricean maxims assume that speakers want and intend to be understood.
However, communication occurs not only when the maxims are followed, but also when they are
purposely violated or unfulfilled. Indeed, it is because people largely assume they are in
operation that apparent violations are nevertheless usually interpreted as if they have not been
flouted. For instance, verbal tactics like irony, sarcasm, and jokes, which may seem like
violations of Quality, actually are not; hence these violations can be as informative as adherence
in real-world conversation contexts (Mooney, 2004).
Importantly, Grice also stated that the maxims could apply to exchanges outside of the
sphere of verbal communication and that language per se need not be the only means of
communication. In the next section, we propose that the maxims can also inform the nature of
communication in visual art.
Gricean Conversational Maxims Applied to Art
The adherence to, or purposeful violation or nonfulfillment of, Grice’s principles of
communication may produce what experts and professionals consider “good art.” If an artist
adheres to the maxims, the product should be a well-organized, balanced, complex composition,
with the best possible arrangement of elements and use of materials to represent an intended idea,
thought, or emotion. Arguably, high-quality artworks are those that follow communication
principles or purposely violate them in a way that still clearly and richly communicates. Experts
and professionals are in a position to appreciate the conversational appropriateness of all manner
of art, including art that strikes the untrained as violations of maxims, that can be interpreted as
deliberate attempts to exclude them from the conversation. Hence, experts and professionals can
appreciate a wide range of artworks that are still well-organized, balanced, complex compositions
even if they are seemingly visually simple or “primitive.”
Here, we explore just how the Gricean maxims might apply to communication in art,
thereby affecting the experience of the viewer and providing an explanation for the difficulty that
many untrained viewers have with abstract art. Note that since this paper represents the first
attempt to ground the process of communication in art in the Gricean maxims, and the research
cited briefly below was not conducted with this point of view in mind, the fit between some
maxims and earlier research is clearer in some cases than in others.
Relation is perhaps the most intuitive maxims in terms of its relevance to conversational
implicature and meaning construction in art viewing. The maxim of Relation would suggest that
it is critically important that viewers believe that the artist intends a work to be relevant to them.
Relation can take many forms, for instance, commentary on social issues (e.g., economics, war,
or race), aesthetic issues, or at a purely individual level. In any case, the key issue is that over and
above whether a piece is deemed personally relevant, people will appreciate art more to the
degree that they believe it was intended to be relevant to them. Indeed, empirical evidence
indicates that an individual’s ability to relate experience to the content in art impacts aesthetic
preference ratings. For instance, Landau et al. (2006) asked participants to either imagine a
chaotic life experience or a calm one and showed them abstract art that related to these themes;
those who could relate personal experience to the images showed higher appreciation. More
generally, these researchers argued that highly abstract art can threaten meaning when the content
is difficult to interpret, consistent with the idea that fulfillment of the relevance maxim strongly
influences aesthetic preference.
The Gricean category of Manner can also be intuitively related to art-viewing. One can
interpret Manner as the ‘how’ of art-making. Again the key point is the degree to which viewers
tacitly assume that the manner of the art is intended to be understood. A key aspect of Manner
involves how an image is put together – that is, how the elements of the image are arranged. For
The Image
instance, compositional balance is a primary design principle that is intimately linked to
pleasurable aesthetic experience (e.g., Arnheim, 1974, 1988; McManus, Cheema, & Stoker,
1993). A large empirical literature has yielded substantial evidence supporting the notion of
‘visual rightness’ – that is, that high-quality artworks involve an optimal arrangement of visual
elements (e.g., McManus & Kitson, 1995). Notably, violations of visual rightness can also
function communicatively: an artist intending to induce a feeling of discomfort and unease may
create a composition that purposefully upsets the balance structure so the work appears off-kilter.
More generally, abstracted images that represent purposeful violations of Manner (or other
Gricean categories) may communicate different way of looking at the world – at least to
receptive viewers.
The Gricean category of Quality, in a visual art context, can refer to an artist’s depictive
skill or the sincerity of the artist to communicate. One can easily imagine an artist using all of
their knowledge and working with great sincerity to create an image that demonstrates their
technical skill and communicates a straightforward message. Indeed, for much of art history this
probably has been the norm (Gombrich, 1960). In recent times, one of the clearest violations of
the truthfulness maxim involves abstract paintings, where there is often no discernible subject at
all. Non-experts tend to show strong preferences for representational, as opposed to abstract,
styles of art (Leder, Belke, Oeberst, & Augustin, 2004). Importantly, non-expert criticisms of
abstract art (“my child could paint that”) don’t appear as detached criticism; instead, the
disapproval is often very emotion-laden. In such cases, artists’ sincerity to communicate through
their skillfulness in selection and manipulation of materials (if not the photographic realism of
their depictions) does not enter viewers’ awareness and therefore leads to negative aesthetic
emotions and judgments. In contrast, art-trained viewers share common ground with artists. They
are familiar with the methods, techniques, styles, and media that are employed by the artists to
communicate their experiences, as well as being familiar with the styles that preceded the
development of new work. Thus, expert viewers are in a position to appreciate purposeful
violations of Quality, while non-experts are not.
The category of Quantity refers to the amount of information that is necessary to be
maximally informative in discourse. In art, this involves an appropriate degree of visual or
conceptual complexity: a piece needs to be complex enough to hold viewers’ attention and
interest, but not so complex that a viewer finds it difficult to understand. A large literature has
examined overall relations between visual complexity and aesthetic preference (e.g., Avital &
Cupchik, 1998; Berlyne, 1971). However, from a Gricean perspective, more relevant is the
interaction between the level of complexity and a viewer’s expectations, filtered through
knowledge of an artist’s intentions. As with Quality, expertise probably plays an important role
here, for instance, in some viewers’ capacity to appreciate seemingly simple paintings by Color
Field Abstract Expressionists or Minimalists because they understand the artists’ intentions. The
same logic probably applies with even more force to highly conceptual art and found objects
exhibited as art.
How Gricean Maxims Inform Positive and Negative Aesthetic Experiences
of Artworks
To reiterate, trained and non-trained viewers often differ strongly in their art preferences and
emotional reactions to art (Leder et al., 2004). We argue that this difference is due to the extent to
which the artist and viewer share common ground vis-à-vis the Gricean maxims. That is, when
confronted with a challenging or non-representational artwork, non-art-trained viewers will
perceive that the maxims of communication are being violated or simply do not apply (since they
may think the artist is not engaging in a good faith effort to communicate), whereas trained
viewers will perceive the same work as a form of intentional nonfulfillment of the maxims (as a
way to communicate more richly). Non-artists may regard highly abstract or conceptual artworks
as violating most if not all the Gricean maxims, which can elicit negative aesthetic emotions
because it signals that they are being deliberately excluded from the artistic conversation. Indeed,
some empirical evidence (Russell, 2003) suggests that providing even a brief 50-word
description intended to help the viewers’ understanding of the image enhances liking and
comprehension of abstract images – arguably by providing sufficient common ground between
the artist and viewer, akin to the knowledge that art-trained individuals likely already possess
(see also Cupchik, Shereck, & Spiegel, 1994; Seifert, 2001).
How does this dynamic play out in particular works of art? We now discuss this issue as
it pertains to a few specific artists. The first case is that of Color Field Abstract Expressionists,
such as Mark Rothko, who experimented with the overall size, color, and texture of paintings.
These images may appear to the art-untrained to be quite simple and lacking in visual
complexity. However, Rothko’s works are acclaimed and the originals are often very visually
engaging to art-trained individuals. Such viewers may understand such supposed over-simplicity
as a purposeful violation of the maxim of Quantity which communicates a completely
appropriate, complex experience with the impact of particular visual elements; in contrast, non-
artists may see such work as a flagrant violation of the maxim of Quantity – that is, as Rothko
simply opting out of a meaningful communicative exchange with them.
Highly conceptual works by artists like Marcel Duchamp and Dadaists present viewers
with similar problems. Again, many of their works containing “found objects” are not visually
complex. Consider, for example, Duchamp’s readymade, a urinal which he turned upside down
and titled Fountain. For an untrained viewer, such pieces may violate the maxims of Quantity
and Manner– not only in terms of visual complexity, but also in being conceptually very
ambiguous. This particular piece could also be seen as violating the Quality maxim as well, in
that viewers could regard it as indicating that the artist lacks sincerity to communicate or lacks
the skills to do so. However, for those who share common ground with the art community and for
the artist himself, this piece and others like it can be perceived as a conceptually complex
commentary on the very nature of art. Again, degree of perceived complexity and skill may vary
greatly with art experience, which influences looking behavior, with common ground or shared
knowledge, and with exposure.
As another example, consider Piss Christ, a photograph by Andres Serrano that depicts a
crucifix submerged in the artist’s own urine. This image often elicits anger, contempt, disgust, or
a mixture of these emotions – depending on the extent to which the work is perceived as being
counter to the viewer’s values and/or simply unpleasant (Silvia, 2009). In Gricean terms, an
intentionally offensive work may be interpreted by the viewer as a flagrant violation of the
Quality maxim (i.e., the artist’s sincerity of communication and skill to do so) and would thus not
be taken seriously as a communication. This piece is often perceived quite differently by art
professionals. In adherence to the maxim of Quality the artist choice of an unconventional
material, his own urine, was the prime choice for the intended expression, and the fulfillment of
the Quality maxim in this way was recognized by those within the community, that is, those
sharing common ground with the artist.
Negative emotions as part of the aesthetic experience have recently gained more attention
in the empirical aesthetics literature (see Silvia, 2009). It makes sense that works like Piss Christ,
which non-art-trained viewers might see simply as attacking their value system, would elicit
negative emotions. It is harder to understand how negative aesthetic emotions could be induced
by non-representational art, which does not directly or literally referencing objects in the world,
and which consists only of simple visual elements like line, color, shape, size, location, and
directionality. However, regarding art-viewing as an arena for meaning construction, and art itself
as a vehicle for communication, makes the often emotional negative reaction to abstract or
conceptual art easier to understand. When maxims of communication are violated and viewers do
not accept that the artist is making a good faith effort to communicate through a work, they may
experience a negative aesthetic emotion, such as alienation.
The Image
Where to Go From Here
If the Gricean maxims are a plausible framework for understanding communication in art, and
violations of the maxims are responsible for negative aesthetic experiences and emotions, it
should be possible to reverse this effect and increase aesthetic liking by providing non-art-trained
viewers with information to facilitate enough common ground with the artists’ intentions to be
able to interpret the art as operating within the normal rules of cooperative communication.
Indeed, a number of empirical studies (e.g., Landau et al., 2006; Russell, 2003; Cupchik et al.,
1994; Seifert, 2001) provide strong hints that this is the case. The Gricean maxims provide one
framework for understanding the structure of this dynamic. Relating the sorts of effects found so
far in the empirical literature to particular maxims remains a methodological and measurement
challenge. However, the maxims themselves (as they pertain to visual art) can be operationalized
rather straightforwardly, and issues like their internal consistency, inter-correlations, and
predictive validity (for outcomes like aesthetic preference or aesthetic judgment) are empirical
questions. For instance, are all of the maxims equally amenable to measurement? Are all of the
maxims equally predictive of, say, aesthetic preference, or are some more vital than others? Does
the relative predictive power of the maxims vary as a function of the degree of abstraction of the
Firming up the pervasive but relatively vague notion of art as a means of
communication will require not only methodological ingenuity, but a strong and sophisticated
theoretical perspective, like the Gricean maxims. There is every reason to think that this
combination will enable more detailed predictions and assessment of what happens as common
ground between artists and viewers is established, and the communication process unfolds.
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Melissa Dolese: Is currently receiving her doctorate in Cognition, Brain, and Behavior with a
research focus on aesthetics. Previous work has focused on the perception of compositional
balance and hedonic contrast. Melissa Dolese’s current research focuses on art and
communication; looking at preferences through a communication framework and how this differs
for artists and non-artists.
Aaron Kozbelt: Aaron Kozbelt's research program, focusing on creativity and cognition in the
arts, derives largely from his outside interests. In addition to his training in psychology, he has
spent more than 20 years as a practicing visual artist, and his initial research forays grew directly
out of his experiences as an artist. Kozbelt has also incorporated his long-standing interest in
classical music into a line of archival research examining patterns of creativity over the lifespan
of classical composers. More recently, he has started research on creative cognition, humor
production and sexual selection, and metacognition and evaluation in creative problem solving.
Curtis Hardin: Curtis Hardin’s research focuses on the interpersonal foundations of cognition,
including the self-concept, social identification, and prejudice. Most of his work in recent years
has been animated by shared reality theory, which was developed in collaboration with Tory
Higgins (Hardin & Conley, 2000; Hardin & Higgins, 1996; Sinclair, Hardin, & Lowery, in press).
From this perspective, individual cognition and interpersonal relationships are mutually
constructed and regulated through the achievement of "shared reality," which is a kind of
working intersubjectivity, analogous to common ground in face-to-face communication.
The idea of art as a language of emotion has historical roots. This study asked if color, as an integrated pictorial element in Himalayan art, can communicate the intended emotions to North American viewers. To investigate the extent to which those emotions are congruent cross-culturally, participants were assigned to four conditions of varying levels of informativeness, based on whether they did or did not receive an informational brochure and a checklist of emotional terms to reference. Results were analyzed using Latent Semantic Analysis to assess the similarity of word meanings. Participant responses were compared to the emotions that should be conveyed according to Himalayan culture and curators of an exhibit on Himalayan art. Cosine values were generally high in all conditions, indicating that certain colors (i.e., red, black, and gold) can convey consistent emotional information to viewers from very different cultures, even with little or no corresponding verbal material.
Full-text available
We assessed the relationship between Need for Cognitive Closure (NFC) personalities and appreciation, comprehension, and viewing time for realistic paintings depicting objects/scenes and nonrealistic paintings that ambiguously depict objects/scenes. For both types of paintings, liking was positively correlated with degree of understanding. Realistic paintings were better understood, liked, and evaluated for less time than nonrealistic paintings. High and low NFC participants were equal in their liking and comprehension of realistic paintings. However, low NFC participants understood and liked nonrealistic paintings more than high NFC participants. High NFC participants also exhibited an urgency tendency, indicated by their shorter viewing times for both types of paintings as compared with low NFC. We suggest that high NFC is associated with intolerance of and lower appreciation for ambiguous, nonrealistic paintings. This may be due to unwillingness to spend sufficient viewing time to achieve the level of understanding needed to appreciate ambiguous art.
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We present a theory of human artistic experience and the neural mechanisms that mediate it. Any theory of art (or, indeed, any aspect of human nature) has to ideally have three components. (a) The logic of art: whether there are universal rules or principles; (b) The evolutionary rationale: why did these rules evolve and why do they have the form that they do; (c) What is the brain circuitry involved? Our paper begins with a quest for artistic universals and proposes a list of ‘Eight laws of artistic experience’ -- a set of heuristics that artists either consciously or unconsciously deploy to optimally titillate the visual areas of the brain. One of these principles is a psychological phenomenon called the peak shift effect: If a rat is rewarded for discriminating a rectangle from a square, it will respond even more vigorously to a rectangle that is longer and skinnier that the prototype. We suggest that this principle explains not only caricatures, but many other aspects of art. Example: An evocative sketch of a female nude may be one which selectively accentuates those feminine form-attributes that allow one to discriminate it from a male figure; a Boucher, a Van Gogh, or a Monet may be a caricature in ‘colour space’ rather than form space. Even abstract art may employ ‘supernormal’ stimuli to excite form areas in the brain more strongly than natural stimuli. Second, we suggest that grouping is a very basic principle. The different extrastriate visual areas may have evolved specifically to extract correlations in different domains (e.g. form, depth, colour), and discovering and linking multiple features (‘grouping’) into unitary clusters -- objects -- is facilitated and reinforced by direct connections from these areas to limbic structures. In general, when object-like entities are partially discerned at any stage in the visual hierarchy, messages are sent back to earlier stages to alert them to certain locations or features in order to look for additional evidence for the object (and these processes may be facilitated by direct limbic activation). Finally, given constraints on allocation of attentional resources, art is most appealing if it produces heightened activity in a single dimension (e.g. through the peak shift principle or through grouping) rather than redundant activation of multiple modules. This idea may help explain the effectiveness of outline drawings and sketches, the savant syndrome in autists, and the sudden emergence of artistic talent in fronto-temporal dementia. In addition to these three basic principles we propose five others, constituting a total of ‘eight laws of aesthetic experience’(analogous to the Buddha's eightfold path to wisdom).
The aesthetic effect of pictures has been suggested to depend in part upon the existence of an implicit or explicit geometrical basis to their composition. In Experiment 1, subjects identified the significant points which might form the basis for such a geometry. In Experiment 2, a different group of subjects expressed preferences either for intact or cut versions of the pictures used in Experiment 1, and for sets of dots based upon the significant points within those cut and uncut pictures. Although subjects showed an overall preference for uncut rather than cut stimuli (in which it was presumed that cutting would have destroyed much of the compositional geometry), both for pictures and for dot stimuli, there was no correlation between the judgments of pictures and dot patterns, either between picture or between subjects, suggesting that compositional geometry was not of aesthetic significance in preference judgments. That conclusion was reinforced by Experiment 3, in which subjects showed no evidence of a preference for synthetic stimuli which were produced so that they had significant geometrical structure.
Subjects carried out a paired comparison experiment in which they were asked to make a preference judgement between a computer facsimile of an original Mondrian painting, and a modified version of the same picture in which the proportional relations of the compositional lines had been modified by a relatively small amount. Subjects were significantly better than chance expectations in their preference for the original Mondrians, suggesting that these paintings may encapsulate some universal principle of compositional order which can be detected by subjects.
Although system justification research has focused most on the needs to explain and control the social world, system justification may also be regulated by the need to maintain social connections with others. Three experiments demonstrate that trivial interpersonal ties to system-justifying others can facilitate the endorsement of system-justifying attitudes, sometimes even in the face of social exclusion. In Experiment 1, participants exhibited stronger implicit pro-system, anti-labor attitudes after playing a game of catch with eco nomically advantaged, high-status (vs. equal-status) partners. Experiments 2 and 3 demonstrated that social exclusion (vs. inclusion) by systemjustifying partners increased endorsement of implicit anti-system attitudes-unless participants believed that they shared a birthday or food preference with their partners. In sum, results suggest that system-justifying attitudes are based in part on motivations to regulate interpersonal relationships, including relationships that are temporary, superficial, and even exclusionary.
This paper revisits Grice's Co-operational Principle (CP). It argues that to take proper account of maxims, their exploitation and relevance, a recontextualizing of the CP in line with Levinson's activity types is required. This is especially fruitful in consideration of communication which is prima facie unco-operative. Further, this paper suggests a re-thinking of the taxonomy of nonfulfillment. Detectable nonfulfillment produces only two kinds of results, exploitation of maxims and social implications to be defined below. This paper also seeks to make a distinction between successful and unsuccessful violations.