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Studies found that genuine artworks viewed in a museum receive higher appreciation ratings than reproductions in the laboratory. Due to the mutual variation of context and genuineness, these studies were not able to disentangle these factors. A study designed by Brieber, Leder, and Nadal to systematically differentiate between these two variables did not find an effect of context or genuineness. To substantiate these results, we setup a conceptual replication by using the same 2 (museum/laboratory) by 2 (genuine/reproduction) between-subjects design with improved manipulations of context and genuineness. We found an effect of context, as artworks presented in a museum were liked more and rated more interesting than in the laboratory. We did not find effects of genuineness. Exploratively, we found that art style had a big impact on how artworks were rated regardless of context and genuineness, indicating that this may be a more important factor for aesthetic experience.
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Research Article
Effects of Context and
Genuineness in the
Experience of Art
Susanne Gru
, Eva Specker
and Helmut Leder
Studies found that genuine artworks viewed in a museum receive higher appreciation
ratings than reproductions in the laboratory. Due to the mutual variation of context
and genuineness, these studies were not able to disentangle these factors. A study
designed by Brieber, Leder, and Nadal to systematically differentiate between these
two variables did not find an effect of context or genuineness. To substantiate these
results, we setup a conceptual replication by using the same 2 (museum/laboratory) by
2 (genuine/reproduction) between-subjects design with improved manipulations of
context and genuineness. We found an effect of context, as artworks presented in a
museum were liked more and rated more interesting than in the laboratory. We did
not find effects of genuineness. Exploratively, we found that art style had a big impact
on how artworks were rated regardless of context and genuineness, indicating that
this may be a more important factor for aesthetic experience.
museum study, style, original, reproduction, painting, art appreciation, art evaluation
Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods, Faculty of Psychology, University of
Vienna, Austria
Department of Traffic and Engineering Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Technische Universit
Braunschweig, Germany
Department of Art History, Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies, University of Vienna, Austria
Corresponding Author:
Susanne Gru¨ner, Department of Traffic and Engineering Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Technische
at Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.
Empirical Studies of the Arts
0(0) 1–15
!The Author(s) 2019
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/0276237418822896
When thinking about the fascination people have with art, famous museums and
highly priced single pieces come to mind. But, explaining why art really touches
us seems difficult. Researchers suggest that other factors, besides the artwork
itself, influence our art experience. Two such factors are context and genuine-
ness, the location in which the artwork is presented, and the fact that in a
museum we see the real, unique artwork. However, in empirical studies, up
until now, these effects have often been confounded. Typically, genuine art-
works are viewed in a museum context, while in the context of comparison,
the laboratory, reproductions of artworks are presented. Therefore, it is one of
the greatest challenges for research in this field to disentangle these two factors
in order to examine the impact of them separately as well as combined.
This article aims to address this issue and investigates the effects of context
and genuineness in a way that differentiates between these two variables. We
first give a short review of the literature on context and genuineness and con-
sequently discuss this study.
Previous research has established that visiting an exhibition in a museum is gen-
erally pleasurable (Smith & Wolf, 1996). Museums are places where people take
time to reflect and enjoy cultural heritage (Smith, 2014). Most research to date has
investigated art experience of the different stimuli in only one type of context
(Locher & Dolese, 2004; Locher, Smith, & Smith, 1999, 2001). This consequently
does not allow for a direct assessment of the influence of context, for this one
would need at least two different types of context. Some research has investigated
the influence of museum context directly, finding enhanced aesthetic experience
and higher ratings in aesthetic value, liking, and interest in museums (Brieber,
Nadal, & Leder, 2015; Specker, Tinio, & van Elk, 2017) as compared with lab-
oratories. In addition, people look longer at artworks in a museum context than
in a laboratory context (Brieber, Nadal, Leder & Rosenberg, 2014). Artworks, as
well as added information concerning them, were remembered better and longer
when they were viewed in a museum context (Brieber, Nadal, et al., 2015; Specker
et al., 2017). Together, the presented studies draw a consistent picture of the
positive effect of museum contexts on art experience.
Different theories exist in the literature on how genuineness can impact art
experience. The majority of the literature on genuineness pays particular atten-
tion to ideal aspects, for example, Benjamin (2010), when discussing the aura of
an artwork as a standalone value. Seeing it from a different angle, Newman and
Bloom (2012) explained the impact of genuineness through two aspects: An
artwork is understood first as a result of a performance and second as a
2Empirical Studies of the Arts 0(0)
source of physical contact with the artist. Despite the theoretical importance of
genuineness, empirical work is scarce, probably due to practical concerns such
as limited access to genuine artworks, which leads to difficulties in running
scientific experiments. Coping successfully with this challenge, Locher et al.
(1999, 2001) showed that only a quarter of their stimuli set of genuine artworks
was rated as more interesting and more pleasant than replications (slides and
computer; Locher et al., 1999), and that only art-trained people rated genuine
artworks differently from reproductions (Locher et al., 2001). Art-untrained
people did not rate genuine artworks differently from their reproductions.
In reaction to these unexpected findings, Locher et al. (2001) proposed the
process of facsimile accommodation as an explanation: If people are aware that
the object they are evaluating is a reproduction and if this reproduction is of
high quality, they will automatically adjust their evaluation of an artwork as if
they were looking at the original artwork. This hypothesis may be an explana-
tion for the lack of a genuineness effect in previous studies. Locher et al. (2001)
attributed importance to the special role of reproduction quality because repro-
ductions are typically of a lower quality than the original and have a reduced
level of artistic finesse. Size, relief structures, deepness of color, and so on are
just some artistic aspects that can for the most part not be reproduced with the
media used. Therefore, it is an open question whether and how the quality of
reproductions plays a role in the effects of genuineness.
To summarize, context and genuineness usually are highly cofounded varia-
bles in empirical research. Therefore, none of the discussed studies can clearly
determine whether the found effects are due to context or to genuineness. The
only study up to now that aimed to address this issue and disentangle these two
factors is a study by Brieber, Leder, and Nadal (2015). They used a 2 (laboratory
vs. gallery) by 2 (genuine vs. reproduction) between-subjects design. The study
was conducted in two rooms of a gallery (gallery condition) and a laboratory
room (laboratory condition). Contemporary photographs were used as stimuli,
which were either hanged on the wall (genuine condition) or shown in a com-
puter presentation (reproduction condition). Participants reported their experi-
ence in terms of liking, interest, arousal, valence, and understanding. In contrast
to Brieber, Leder, et al.’s (2015) expectations, no main effects (either of context
or genuineness) were found, nor did they find interaction effects. These findings
are in strong contrast to the existing literature. This contrast creates a necessity
of further research to gain a better understanding of the (lack of) effects of
context and genuineness reported by Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015). This study
aims to fill this need.
The present study
This study aims to assess the effect of context and the effect of genuineness
further. To do this, we carried out a conceptual replication of Brieber, Leder,
¨ner et al. 3
et al. (2015). We used the same 2 2 design to allow for comparability of the
findings but improved the manipulation of context and genuineness, as we are
critically questioning the effectiveness of their manipulation. In addition,
we exploratively investigated the influence of art style on art experience. Next,
we shortly discuss the improvements made and our motivation for them, first
regarding context, then regarding genuineness.
Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015) addressed the potential of an inverse white cube
effect. The white cube effect refers to the fact that a museum context can trans-
form any kind of ordinary object into an art object or artwork. However, the
contrary may also occur: Not only can a museum context turn things into art
but also artworks hanging in a random physical context can turn this context
into a museum. Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015) later supposed that the photographs
could have turned the laboratory into a gallery. So do we, and critically question
the effectiveness of the context manipulation as well. Participants might have
felt as if they were in a gallery context rather than in a laboratory. In this study,
we used separated places that represented real museum or real laboratory con-
texts. As Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015) did, we made sure that both contexts were
located in different buildings. In contrast to Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015), we
additionally used a museum rather than a commercial gallery context. As a
museum of art is an even more stereotypical art exhibition context than a com-
mercial gallery, especially for laypeople, we aimed to enhance the manipulation
of context. In addition, as a commercial gallery space is not only a place where
art is exhibited but also a place where it is sold, it could be that these monetary
aspects of the gallery had an influence on the effect. Using a museum space
controlled for these potential confounds. Especially because the museum in
which we conducted the study is a city museum, which has a nonprofit educa-
tional task and free entrance for all visitors. Furthermore, we kept room size,
lighting, as well as distance to the artworks in both contexts constant, as these
are well-known cofounding variables (Griswold, Mangione, & McDonnell,
2013, p. 352; Pelowski, Forster, Tinio, Scholl, & Leder, 2017).
This leads to improved control of confounding variables like physical char-
acteristics or expectancy of the participants (Cupchik, 2002; Locher, Overbeeke
& Wensveen, 2010; Scherer, 2005). The participants’ expectations were and were
not fulfilled in either of the two conditions, as people expect genuine artworks in
a museum and reproductions in a laboratory but not vice versa.
Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015) discussed weaknesses of the used medium (photog-
raphy). Due to the widespread digital presentation of photographs, digital
4Empirical Studies of the Arts 0(0)
reproductions may have a similar level of assumed genuineness as photographic
prints, especially by lay viewers. Therefore, in this study, we only used artworks
painted on canvas in the genuine condition and high-quality pictures in the
computer presentation for the reproduction condition. We postulated that, espe-
cially for a lay sample, paintings would be seen as more genuine than photo-
graphs (Dutton, 2009) and would crucially have a higher level of assumed
genuineness than their digital reproductions.
For a satisfying comparison, various features have to be matched. As a cen-
tral point, reproductions were shown in exactly the same size as the genuine
artworks to exclude size as a confound (Pelowski et al., 2017). In keeping this
feature constant between conditions, this study seems to be a first fair test of art
in different contexts.
In addition, we did not provide an information about any of the artworks. In
the study by Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015), additional information was given for
some of the artworks. This information was mostly technical data about the
photographs. This led Brieber, Leder et al. (2015) to suggest that perhaps
the participants did not feel the artwork. They did not focus on the content
of the artwork but more on the explained abstract aspects of the medium pho-
tography. As information about artworks is typically offered in a museum con-
text, omitting information may seem rather unnatural in this context. However,
we feel that the added gains of comparability and exclusion of potential effects
of information outweighed the potential drawbacks.
As an explorative extension, this study investigates the impact of art style on
art experience in direct comparison with context and genuineness. Effects of art
style have been consistently found with reproductions in the laboratory (Leder,
Gerger, Dressler, & Schabmann, 2012) as well as with genuine artworks in the
museum (Mastandrea et al., 2018; Tr
ondle & Tschacher, 2012). But evidence is
lacking that the effect of art style is not influenced by context or genuineness
themselves. To analyze the impact of art style in this study, we showed five
artworks in abstract style and five in figurative style.
In sum, these improvements to the experimental design aim to create the
optimal conditions for finding the effects of context and genuineness. As
Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015), we hypothesized that both context and genuineness
positively affect art experiences. Specifically, we hypothesize that art experience
is enhanced in a museum context (vs. a laboratory context) as well as when
looking at a genuine artwork (vs. a reproduction).
Our total sample consisted of 155 participants, aged between 18 and 49 years
(mean age 24 years, 108 women). Psychology students from the University of
¨ner et al. 5
Vienna were rewarded with course credits for their participation. Six partici-
pants had an educational background in art. In view of age, sex, and art edu-
cation, the participants in this study and the one of Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015)
were highly similar.
Context. There were two different types of context: A museum context
(the MUSA: Museum Start Gallery Artothek, Vienna) and a laboratory context
(a laboratory room of the University of Vienna). The MUSA was established by
the City of Vienna’s Department of Culture and exhibits the contemporary art
collection of the City of Vienna. The laboratory room is a typical laboratory
space that is used for empirical experiments and as computer room on
daily basis.
Genuineness. People either saw real artworks (paintings) hanging on the walls
(genuine condition) or reproductions of these artworks in a power-point pre-
sentation on high-resolution monitors (reproduction condition).
Stimuli. Ten prerated artworks (five oil painting, three mixed technique, one
tempera, and one gouache paint) were used; nine from the collection of
MUSA and one from the private collection of the third author. To select paint-
ings, we ran an online prestudy in which 20 paintings were rated regarding
arousal, complexity, and valence. Based on this, we selected 10 artworks (5 fig-
uratives and 5 abstracts). Furthermore, the 10 paintings were made by nine
different artists to keep the influence of individual painting style and specific
character of the artist low. In the reproduction condition, artworks were shown
in their original size in order to control for a potential confounding effect of
artwork size between the two different conditions. In both contexts, the art-
works hung at the same height (upper image border—182 cm) and with the same
distance to each other (center of the artwork—89 cm).
Art experience. To assess the experience of artworks, we measured arousal,
valence, liking, interest, and understanding. Using these scales enables the mea-
surement of affective (valence and arousal) and cognitive (liking, interest, and
understanding) aspects of art experience and further enables the comparison
with previous studies (Brieber, Leder, et al., 2015; Brieber, Nadal, et al., 2015;
Brieber et al., 2014). The operationalization was as follows: Arousal (How
aroused do you feel when looking at this artwork?), valence (How does this art-
work make you feel?), liking (How much do you like this artwork?), interest (How
interesting do you find this artwork?), and understanding (How much do you have
a sense of understanding this artwork?). All were rated on 7-point Likert-type
6Empirical Studies of the Arts 0(0)
scales from 1 (very little)to7(a lot), except for valence (1 ¼very negative to
7¼very positive) and arousal (1 ¼very calm to 7 ¼very excited).
Art interest and art knowledge. As in Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015), we measured
individual differences in art interest and art knowledge. These individual differ-
ences are variables that can play a measurable role in art experience (Brieber,
Nadal, et al., 2015; Leder, Belke, Oeberst, & Augustin, 2004; Locher et al.,
2001). We used the validated Vienna Art Interest Art Knowledge
Questionnaire (Specker et al., 2018).
As in the study of Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015), participants were asked to freely
walk around to view the artworks hanging on the walls (genuine condition) or to
take place to view the high-quality digital reproductions on the screen (repro-
duction condition). Due to the analog way of presenting artworks in the genuine
condition, it was not possible to fully randomize the presentation order of the
artworks. Therefore, we created three different artwork orders. Participants
were assigned to one of the three orders based on the day of participation
(order 1: 50 participants, order 2: 57 participants, and order 3: 48 participants).
Participants viewed the artworks either in the MUSA (museum condition) or in
the laboratory (laboratory condition). Figure 1 provides an overview of the
experimental design. There were never more than two participants in the same
room. Following the viewing period, participants were given written instructions
and were asked to rate the artworks, and the scale order was randomized. The
artworks were rated individually; participants of every condition were urged to
return to the artwork while rating it in the various scales (by selecting the art-
work in the presentation [genuine condition] or physically moving back to the
artwork [museum condition]). Afterward, people filled out questionnaires
assessing art interest and art knowledge as well as demographic questions.
Participants did not differ in art interest or art knowledge between conditions,
art interest: F(3,151) ¼.07, p¼.974; art knowledge: F(3,151) ¼.95, p¼.416. In
general, our sample had a moderate interest in art (M¼43.92 on the scale, with
a maximum score of 77, standard deviation [SD]¼14.64) and low knowledge in
art (M¼12.51 on the scale, with a maximum score of 26, SD ¼5.76).
To analyze the effects of context and genuineness, we ran a multivariate
analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) with context (museum/laboratory)
and genuineness (genuine/reproduction) as independent variables, and the
rating scales (measured arousal, valence, liking, interest, and understanding)
as dependent variables. To ensure comparability with the findings of Brieber,
¨ner et al. 7
Figure 1. Photographs of the experimental design (top-left: museum/reproduction, top-right:
museum/genuine, bottom-left: laboratory/reproduction, and bottom-right: laboratory/genuine).
8Empirical Studies of the Arts 0(0)
Leder, et al. (2015), we included art interest as a covariate. Means and SDs
divided into condition are given in Table 1.
There was a main effect of context, explaining 11% of variance in the model,
Wilks’ K¼.89, F(5, 146) ¼3.56, p¼.005, g2
p¼.11. Follow-up analyses showed
that context influences liking, F(1, 150) ¼5.27, p¼.023, g2
p¼.03, and interest,
F(1, 150) ¼14.82, p<.001, g2
p¼.09. As can be seen in Figure 2, artworks were
liked more in the museum (M¼4.44, SD ¼0.64) than in the laboratory
(M¼4.20, SD ¼0.67). In addition, they were rated as more interesting in the
museum (M¼4.68, SD ¼0.62) than in the laboratory (M¼4.28, SD ¼0.70),
shown in Figure 3. As can be seen in Figures 2 and 3 and in Table 1, the
difference between the museum and laboratory contexts was more pronounced
for the reproductions than for the genuine artworks.
Table 1. Mean (and Standard Deviations) in Art Experience Divided by Conditions.
Liking 4.31 (.59) 4.59 (.67) 4.21 (.71) 4.20 (.63)
Interest 4.50 (.64) 4.87 (.55) 4.31 (.70) 4.24 (.71)
Arousal 4.15 (.63) 4.19 (.50) 4.11 (.49) 4.07 (.50)
Valence 4.28 (.46) 4.50 (.53) 4.28 (.51) 4.39 (.44)
Understanding 4.08 (.83) 4.03 (.77) 4.19 (.83) 4.01 (.76)
Figure 2. Mean liking rating shown for context and genuineness, with error bars.
¨ner et al. 9
Nonetheless, there was no main effect of genuineness, Wilks’ K¼.96,
F(5, 146) ¼1.31, p¼.265, g2
p¼.04. Nor was there an interaction between con-
text and genuineness, Wilks’ K¼.97, F(5, 146) ¼.88, p¼.497, g2
To test for the robustness of the effect, we conducted follow-up analyses. In a
first step, we computed a multivariate analysis of variance without art interest as
covariate. This was done because, in contrast with Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015),
we did not observe a difference in art interest between conditions. This analysis
did not change the reported effects. Second, we repeated the initial MANCOVA
with exclusion of one artwork that was not presented in the correct size in the
reproduction condition; our results did not change when this artwork
was excluded.
Explorative Analysis: Art Style
In addition, we wanted to explore the effect of art style. By design, we included
both abstract and figurative artworks to enable us to investigate the role of style
in art experience in different conditions of art presentation (museum/laboratory
as well as genuine/reproduction). To analyze the role of style, we used a mixed-
effect MANCOVA with art style as a within-subject factor, context (museum/
laboratory) and genuineness (genuine/reproduction) as between-subjects factors,
and the rating scales (measured arousal, valence, liking, interest, and under-
standing) as dependent variables. To ensure comparability, we included art
interest as a covariate.
Figure 3. Mean interest rating shown for context and genuineness, with error bars.
10 Empirical Studies of the Arts 0(0)
There was a main effect of art style, explaining 44% of variance in the model,
Wilks’ K¼.57, F(5, 146) ¼22.46, p<.001, g2
p¼.44. Follow-up analyses showed
that art style explained 42% variance of understanding, F(1, 150) ¼107.61,
p<.001, g2
p¼.42, one can also express the effect size in terms of a standardized
mean difference, in this case that would translate to a Cohen’s dof 2.09. The
understanding of figurative artworks (M¼5.07, SD ¼0.82) was rated signifi-
cantly higher compared with abstract artworks (M¼3.09, SD ¼1.06).
No interaction was observed between art style and context or genuineness.
In contrast with the study of Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015), but in line with the
previous literature (Brieber, Nadal, et al., 2015; Brieber et al., 2014; Locher &
Dolese, 2004; Locher et al., 1999, 2001), this study found an effect of context on
art experience. Our main finding was that people found artworks more interest-
ing and liked artworks more in a museum context than in a laboratory context.
This suggests that the improvements made regarding the manipulation of
context were effective. We worked in a real museum, instead of a commercial
gallery, to control for cofounding variables like physical characteristics or
expectancy of the participants (Cupchik, 2002; Locher et al., 2010; Scherer,
2005). This shows that for the effects of context to occur, the manipulation of
context should be strong enough. When a museum just does not feel like a
museum, or more applicable to the discussion of Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015),
when participants still have the sense of being in a gallery context rather than in
areal laboratory (inverse-with-cube effect), the effect will not appear.
In line with the study by Brieber, Leder, et al. (2015), we did not find an effect
of genuineness. This differs from assumptions regarding the positive effect of
genuineness, as seeing a genuine artwork is known as one of the main motiva-
tions, which drives people to visit a museum in the first place (Mastandrea,
Bartoli, & Bove, 2007, 2009). In this study, we aimed to enhance the manipu-
lation of genuineness by using artworks painted on canvas rather than photo-
graphs under the assumption that this difference in medium would highlight the
genuineness (or nongenuineness) of the artworks.
One possibility is that our manipulation was still not effective. A potential
explanation for this is that a potential effect of genuineness is subverted by the
high quality of the reproductions. The reproductions were professional photo-
graphs shown on a high-resolution 4k monitor with 40-in. diagonal size. Due to
the presentation of all artworks in their original size, presentation sometimes
took up the full size of the screen. This high quality may have therefore reduced
the difference between seeing the reproduction or the genuine or even artificially
increased the pleasure in the art experience of the reproductions.
Another possibility for the lack of an effect is the facsimile-accommodation
hypothesis as discussed in the introduction of this article. Locher et al. (2001)
¨ner et al. 11
argue that if people are aware that they are looking at a reproduction rather
than a genuine artwork, they will attempt to adjust their experience accordingly.
This hypothesis may be an explanation of the lack of a genuineness effect in
general but may be particularly relevant in our case. In this study, participants
in the reproduction condition reported that they assumed the artworks to be
larger in real life than presented on the screen, even though they were explicitly
told that this was not the case and that the presented artworks were shown in
their original size. This implicit assumption was probably created by the fact
that reproductions are usually smaller than genuine artworks. Due to monitor
size, one would need a pretty large monitor to be able to show a relatively small
canvas artwork in its original size, leading to reproductions consistently being
presented as smaller. This is the case not only for digital reproductions but can
also be observed in analog reproductions such as postcards. However, if the
facsimile accommodation is correct, our participants will have tried to accom-
modate for the fact that they were seeing a reproduction, specifically, partici-
pants imagined the artworks larger. This fault in accommodation (the genuine
artworks were actually not larger in real life) may have obscured the effects of
genuineness. This is possible, as artwork size can influence the art experience
(Pelowski et al., 2017).
Finally, the lack of an effect of genuineness may be due to our sample con-
sisting mainly of laypeople. The results of Locher et al. (2001) suggest that only
art-trained people rated genuine artworks differently than reproductions. It may
be the case that genuineness matters for people with a high knowledge of art but
not for laymen. If this is the case, then any effect of genuineness can only be
found in an art-trained sample.
Nonetheless, it is worth asking if this potential effect disappears when gen-
uine artworks are compared with high-quality reproductions. It is likely that
trained observers pick up on subtle visual cues (such as brushstrokes) that are in
genuine artworks but not normally visible in low-quality reproductions due to
the medium or limitations in technical aspects (e.g., display resolution). The
presence (or lack) of these visual cues may be the underlying cause of the effects
of genuineness. If this is the case, progress in technology and the digital display
of images will lead to the ability to create reproductions that have the same
subtle visual cues as the genuine artwork. This technical progress has the poten-
tial to change the way we experience art.
Furthermore, it is possible that effects of genuineness depend on the artistic
quality of the artwork. In the case of famous artworks, such as the Mona Lisa,
people will have explicit expectations, knowledge-based emotions, or other val-
uations, which make them differently and especially valued by people when
seeing them in real life. As our sample of artworks included neither well-
known artworks nor well-known artists, it may be that the effects of genuineness
only come into play when people are looking at famous artworks or artworks by
famous artists.
12 Empirical Studies of the Arts 0(0)
Nonetheless, it is crucial to discuss the possibility of the absence of a genu-
ineness effect, in general, which is suggested by the findings of Brieber, Leder,
et al. (2015) and this present study. Perhaps previous genuineness effects may
have been caused by confounds.
As a new finding and extension of the previous literature, our study showed a
strong effect of art style. Art style explained 44% of variance in the model,
illustrating the importance of this factor. Interestingly, style did not interact
with conditions of context or genuineness. This result indicates that style effects
are present regardless of context or genuineness. This suggests that style effects
previously found in a laboratory setting using reproductions are generalizable to
people engaging with genuine artworks in a museum. This knowledge supports
further investigations on style in laboratory designs. An interesting direction for
the future would be to assess how important art style is for people with training
in art (Leder & Nadal, 2014). Laypeople tend to consistently rate abstract art
lower than figurative art on a variety of measures (Locher et al., 2001), which
may result in art style being a more important aspect to laypeople than to
experts, especially because art style mainly influences to what extent people
understand the artworks. Figurative art may be easier to understand for lay-
people because the representation of figurative scenes can be easier linked to
scenes of everyday life (see “Cognitive Mastering” in Leder et al., 2004). Due to
their low level of knowledge about art, the link between art and everyday life
may act as an important resource for laypeople to understand art. In contrast, it
seems likely that people with art training do not need to rely on figurative
content as much, as their higher level of knowledge of art can act as an alter-
native resource for understanding art.
In sum, our study emphasizes the importance of art style in art experience. In
addition, it provides further insight into the (lack of) effects of genuineness of
artworks. Finally, it supports previous research by replicating a positive effect of
the museum context. Our results show that artworks are liked more and are seen
as more interesting in a museum context rather than a laboratory context. These
findings show the importance of a museum as institution and physical space that
create an optimal environment for the experience of art.
The authors thank the MUSA for allowing the use of its exhibition space, genuine art-
works, as well as their professional photographs as reproductions. A special thanks goes
to the former director of the MUSA Dr. Berthold Ecker and the photographer Heimo
Watzlik for their support and highly valuable expert advices. Finally, the authors would
like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments and suggestions
that helped to improve this article.
¨ner et al. 13
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research,
authorship, and/or publication of this article.
The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publica-
tion of this article.
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Author Biographies
Susanne Gru
¨ner is a PhD student at the Faculty of Psychology at the Technische
at Braunschweig.
Eva Specker is a PhD student at the Faculty of Historical and Cultural Studies
at the University of Vienna.
Helmut Leder is professor of Cognitive Psychology and Head of the Department
of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods at the University
of Vienna.
¨ner et al. 15
... Through its face validity, this hypothesis has routinely served as an explanation for the lack of empirical evidence for a genuineness effect (e.g., Grüner et al., 2019). However, this hypothesis has never been empirically tested. ...
... We had three conditions: a condition where people received no instructions (control condition), a condition in which people were explicitly instructed to imagine the real artwork when judging the reproduction (accommodation condition), and a condition in which people were explicitly instructed to only judge the image as it was presented on the screen (non-accommodation condition). All participants rated the artworks they saw on the same dimensions as in Brieber et al. (2015) and Grüner et al. (2019). Afterwards they reported the strategy they used in rating, indicated for each artwork how vivid their image of the real artwork was, and (except for participants in the control condition) were asked to report the instructions they received in the beginning. ...
... In addition to these condition-specific instructions, all participants received instructions on which questions would be asked of them that also explained how to interpret the arousal, valence, and understanding scales in line with instructions given by Brieber et al. (2015) and Grüner et al. (2019). This also ensured that all participants (regardless of condition) received some instructions as well as that the specific instructions were less salient in line with the argumentation of the previous paragraph. ...
Full-text available
Research has failed to find evidence for a genuineness effect: the idea that aesthetic experiences are better when looking at real artworks versus reproductions of those artworks. One common explanation for this lack of an effect is the facsimile accommodation hypothesis. This hypothesis states that people can “look past” the limitations of a reproduction, which obscures the effect. However, this hypothesis itself has never been tested. In the current paper, we therefore test the facsimile accommodation hypothesis. In Study 1 (N = 120) we found no evidence for the facsimile accommodation hypothesis: there was no difference between the non-accommodation (instructed to evaluate the artwork as it is presented on the screen), the accommodation condition (instructed to evaluate the artwork as they imagine it would look in real life), and the control condition (no instructions). Though the control and accommodation condition did not differ which would be in line with the facsimile accommodation hypothesis, neither differed from the non-accommodation condition which they should have if the facsimile accommodation hypothesis was correct. We substantiate these findings by a pre-registered replication study (Study 2, N = 205), using Bayes Factors as well as equivalence testing to provide evidence for a null-effect, again finding no evidence for the facsimile accommodation hypothesis and even finding substantial evidence in favor of the null-hypothesis. In sum, we conclude that there is no evidence for the facsimile accommodation hypothesis and that we need to consider alternative explanations in order to understand the lack of empirical evidence for the genuineness effect.
... Smith and Smith (2006) further pointed out that the interaction of aesthetic perception can be perceived when the aesthetic value is effortlessly attached to the art knowledge, which is measured closely based on perceivers' age, art training and art education. Grüner, Specker, and Leder (2019) stated that the establishment of art knowledge by the perceivers is treated as a foundation in forming better understanding of art. As for those without basic art knowledge, extra effort is required in comprehending the visual art displayed to them (Grüner et al., 2019;Miller & Hübner, 2019). ...
... Grüner, Specker, and Leder (2019) stated that the establishment of art knowledge by the perceivers is treated as a foundation in forming better understanding of art. As for those without basic art knowledge, extra effort is required in comprehending the visual art displayed to them (Grüner et al., 2019;Miller & Hübner, 2019). The distinction between untrained and trained perceivers creates a gap in evaluating and criticising a work of art, which also depends on the level of art appreciation possessed by a person (Silvia, 2009). ...
... The context effect means that artworks presented in a museum were evaluated as more liked and more interesting than in a laboratory. The genuineness effects mean that artworks presented in real and physical settings were rated aesthetically better than replicated ones (Grüner, Specker, & Leder, 2019). Recent studies demonstrated the significance of context effect (Grüner et al., 2019) and the metaanalysis study implied that the genuineness effect was a by-product of the context effect (Specker, Fekete, Trupp, & Leder, 2021). ...
... The genuineness effects mean that artworks presented in real and physical settings were rated aesthetically better than replicated ones (Grüner, Specker, & Leder, 2019). Recent studies demonstrated the significance of context effect (Grüner et al., 2019) and the metaanalysis study implied that the genuineness effect was a by-product of the context effect (Specker, Fekete, Trupp, & Leder, 2021). Given the close relationship between inspiration and aesthetic experience, children's inspiration may vary depending on the context and the viewing environment it creates. ...
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Viewing art inspires creativity, which can encourage learning in art education. A previous study revealed that the type of artwork and the way art is viewed affects adults' inspiration; however, no study exists concerning the way children are inspired by viewing art. Thus, the current study aimed to examine whether children's age group/grade level, art style (figurative or abstract), and artwork creators (children or adults) influence children's inspiration, and whether the effects of the art style and creators vary by children's age group/grade level. An online questionnaire survey was conducted with the help of 600 pairs of parents and their elementary‐school‐aged children. They were asked to view eight paintings that differed in terms of the artists and their individual style and they then rated their inspiration experience when viewing each artwork. The results revealed that children were more inspired when viewing abstract, rather than figurative, paintings, and the effect of the type of painting differed in the third and sixth grades. Additionally, children gained more inspiration by viewing paintings created by children rather than by adults; a difference observed in all grade levels.
... While it can be understood that the title influences the appreciation of an artwork (i.e., the title is the result of the author's action, so it can be treated as part of the work, it can affect the interpretation of the work, etc.), the influence of other kinds of cues is not so obvious. And so works of art were evaluated more positively when presented in the museum than in the laboratory (Grüner et al., 2019;Specker et al., 2017;Szubielska & Imbir, 2021), and whether paintings are liked or not depends on various social cues, such as the opinion of other people or the sale price of these paintings (Lauring et al., 2016). ...
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By applying persuasion and consumer research findings to art appreciation we have checked whether and how artwork framing affects the evaluation of non-representational, abstract contemporary paintings. The frame can be treated as a cue signaling the value of the framed work-the more expensive it seems, the greater the value attached to the painting. However, the frame can be also seen as a means of exhibiting or promoting the picture. Exhibiting a painting in a frame that is perceived as excessively expensive can lead to a lowered rating of this painting. Both of these effects can be moderated by the perceivers' interest in art. We conducted one experimental study, where participants evaluated paintings viewed either without a frame or framed in a simple or decorative frame. The results showed that decorative frames make paintings seem less valuable. Moreover, although simple frames do not affect the evaluation of the paintings by respondents with little interest in art, they impair the evaluation made by more interested participants. It seems that in certain conditions (highly visible frame or engaged perceivers) the frame can be treated as a form of promotion for the framed painting. And such attempts can backfire and negatively impact the evaluation of the painting.
... Some studies have found differences in art appreciation depending on the size and location of the artworks [83,84]; therefore, all artworks displayed were similar in terms of size (fitted to A3 size), spacing between artworks, and installation height on the wall. We also used highquality images of artwork provided by the Lee-Ungno Art Museum, given that existing research indicates no significant difference in the appreciation of original artworks [85]. Simple descriptions of each artwork were similarly designed (i.e., word count: M = 24.85, ...
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Visitor-centered approaches have been widely discussed in the museum experience research field. One notable approach was suggested by Falk and Dierking, who defined museum visitor experience as having a physical, personal, and social context. Many studies have been conducted based on this approach, yet the interactions between personal and social contexts have not been fully researched. Since previous studies related to these interactions have focused on the face-to-face conversation of visitor groups, attempts to provide the social information contributed by visitors have not progressed. To fill this gap, we examined such interactions in collaboration with the Lee-Ungno Art Museum in South Korea. Specifically, we investigated the influence of individual visitors’ social contextual information about their art museum experience. This data, which we call “visitor-based social contextual information” (VSCI), is the social information individuals provide—feedback, reactions, or behavioral data—that can be applied to facilitate interactions in a social context. The study included three stages: In Stage 1, we conducted an online survey for a preliminary investigation of visitors’ requirements for VSCI. In Stage 2, we designed a mobile application prototype. Finally, in Stage 3, we used the prototype in an experiment to investigate the influence of VSCI on museum experience based on visitors’ behaviors and reactions. Our results indicate that VSCI positively impacts visitors’ museum experiences. Using VSCI enables visitors to compare their thoughts with others and gain insights about art appreciation, thus allowing them to experience the exhibition from new perspectives. The results of this novel examination of a VSCI application suggest that it may be used to guide strategies for enhancing the experience of museum visitors.
... Rather, experience is strongly context-dependent, mediated by who we are, what we are doing, and how we engage our environment. In recent years, a number of studies have suggested a wide range of factors (Pelowski et al., 2017; for review)-accompanying titles (Millis, 2011), means of presentation , artwork size (Seidel & Prinz, 2018), sequencing or curation of exhibits (Reitstätter et al., 2020;, personality (Silvia et al., 2015), and even ambient smells in a gallery (Cirrincione et al., 2014;Spence, 2020)-all of which, in different ways, are shown to have an effect on arousal, valence, liking, interest, and understanding Grüner et al., 2019), viewing time (Carbon, 2017;Smith et al., 2017), memories , or aesthetic experience factors like chills, feeling touched, and absorption (Specker et al., 2017). ...
Full-text available
Embodied cognition claims that the way we move our body is central for experience. Exploring dimensions of bodily engagement should therefore also be central for understanding the experience of viewing and evaluating art. However, in both laboratory and in more ecologically-valid gallery studies, little attention has been paid to the actual ways viewers move in front of art—where they stand, how they approach or shift positions—and how this impacts their experiences. This paper aims to close this gap by demonstrating a new paradigm in a gallery-like setting, in which we tracked movements of participants that engaged an abstract artwork via infrared cameras. We also captured their viewing behavior via mobile eye tracking and collected self-reported art appraisals, cognitive and emotional phenomenal factors, as well as subjective awareness of their bodies and physical engagement. Via correlational analysis, based on a theoretical review of past literature and arguments regarding compelling movement aspects, we consider the relation of a broad range of objective and subjective movement aspects to reported art experiences. We also—for the first time—define basic, shared patterns of global movement that could be related to different art appraisals and emotional experiences employing a bottom-up statistical analysis using principal component and cluster analyses. As a proof-of-concept paper we identify the importance and explanatory advantages of our approach both for a more embodied, enactive understanding of art engagements, and as a practical guideline for future empirical aesthetics, art, and museum research.
... Besides, the prior knowledge received regarding the historical perspective as well as the artist's life story can increase the understanding of the contextual meaning possessed by every visual art [21,22]. Other factors such as experience [23] and art genuineness [24] keep the perceiver's aesthetic experience increased and grown, not solely because of the visual arts. ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Aesthetic studies are engaged with various visual stimuli connected to human senses, which project different perceptions based on one’s aesthetic experiences. The right output of the process is a ‘symptom’ of ‘delighted’ art, which creates positive experiences in measuring a ‘good taste’ of art. This paper aimed to review the ARS instrument across different domains of aesthetic studies, namely, textiles, art writing, painting, figurative, abstract painting, representational art, and film. The analyses comprised eight adaptations of the Art Reception Survey, indicating the instrument was properly suited for the screening purposes. The findings revealed the influential factors of aesthetics, which are prior knowledge, art knowledge, familiarity, and art connection. These findings also suggested the basis of the instrument adaptation in aesthetic studies as well as the construction of the understanding among the trained and untrained perceivers.
... Given the proven differences between art perception in a laboratory versus museum setting (Grüner et al., 2019), museum studies have explored the effects of label positioning (e.g., McMurtrie 2017) and label information on learning and reasoning (e.g., Blunden 2020; Gutwill & Dancstep, 2017;Land-Zandstra et al., 2020;Wang & Yoon, 2013) as well as memory (e.g., Sweetman et al., 2020). Examining reading behavior on-site, Smith et al. (2017) reported that almost half of the visitors did not read labels and those who did had much shorter mean viewing times of the artworks than those who did not. ...
Full-text available
“Do they read? Oh, yes, they do,” was the conclusion of a paper identifying the proof of label use in visitors’ in-gallery conversations versus the difficulties of observing them reading. This paper ­methodologically refines this research question by asking how exactly exhibit labels are used. Answers are derived from an empirical study that analyzed viewing behavior both before and after the reinstallation of a museum’s collection through mobile eye tracking (MET), subjective mapping, and questionnaires. As the introduction of interpretive labels was one of the major changes implemented, the paper demonstrates differences in visitors’ responses to the artworks with or without contextual information. Analytical emphasis rests on the exploration of patterns in the process of decision making (differentiating between visitors’ reading affinities); visual engagement (analyzing the combined activities of looking and reading); and memory (echoing label texts in visitors’ artwork reflections). Our findings show that all visitors read, albeit to very different extents, the majority being medium-affinity readers; that the basic viewing pattern “art-label-art” becomes more complex with more text and more ­visitors on-site; and that art interpretations deepen and differ through additional information. The power of labels to guide eyes and thoughts suggests their intentional use in museum and curatorial practice.
Using computational processes to model aesthetic judgement is an important, if indispensable, endeavour when designing creative AI systems. In the music domain, studies have mostly concentrated on information-based approaches, albeit often offered as single-factor explanations, and developed in isolation from the ongoing debates taking place in other domains, particularly in cognitive science and philosophy of arts. In this paper, the notion of complexity is explored as a tool towards a cross-modal alternative to the methodological legacy rooted in isolated perceptual analyses of the aesthetic object. To this end, several metrics, some long-established in this field (e.g., information dynamics), others derived/adapted from different domains (e.g., processing fluency theory, soundscape ecology), or originally designed, are considered and compared. This set of metrics is applied to the aesthetic evaluation of noise music in an effort to generalise the discourse to musical expressions that further foreground the limitations of established practices and the exciting road ahead for computational music aesthetics.
The deep‐seated conflict and controversial debate about the restitution of art is in need of other approaches than the established ones. One side argues that these art works have been looted and belongs to the countries where they originated. Therefore, they must be restituted. The other side argues that some of these art works were bought on a market and were not stolen. Moreover, the art works were well conserved in the Western museums and would otherwise no longer exist. Despite many discussions, the conflict seems to be intractable and has also reached the political sphere. We propose an unorthodox way to mitigate the current conflict and to enable more people to consume culture. The new potential of identically replicating originals is combined with random choice. As the large majority of cultural works of arts are the object of observation, only replication is thought to be well suited to fulfill this requirement. However, we acknowledge the limitations of our proposal with respect to human remains and works of art that are put into use in a cultural context from which it was appropriated.
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Being interested in art and having knowledge about art are arguably central dimensions in art experience and two of the most important individual differences when assessing how people process or respond to art. Nonetheless, there is to date no reliable and validated measurement of these dimensions. In this paper, we present the Vienna Art Interest & Art Knowledge Questionnaire (VAIAK) as a tool for researchers to measure both art interest and knowledge of their participants in studies involving visual art. In a 3-stage validation process, we first developed the questionnaire. Second, we pretested it qualitatively and quantitatively with a sample of lay people as well as art history students and art professionals. Finally, we conducted a large-scale validation study (600 participants) with both lay people (psychology students) and art history students, where we present evidence regarding relations to other variables and internal structure as well as the ability to discriminate between relative lay people and experts. Our results show evidence for the reliability of the VAIAK scores as well as evidence for the validity as a measure of both art interest and art knowledge in (scientific) research, while at the same time also providing important clarification and differentiation between the two dimensions. With this new questionnaire, we offer a tool for researchers in empirical aesthetics, creativity, and also applied fields to quantify one or both of the art interest and art knowledge dimensions.
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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 higherorder 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.
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We present a comprehensive review and theoretical discussion of factors that could impact 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 combine. Art viewing often occurs in museums, which are acknowledged as primary locations where individuals naturally meet art, and 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, we consider what key psychological differences may be expected between original/museum and reproduced/lab-based art, and why the art experience may be different when occurring within the museum context. We also review factors that should be controlled for, or which may raise new, unexplored areas for empirical research. These include three main levels: the artwork, the viewer, and physical aspects of the museum. We 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.
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The problem of psychical distance refers to the relationship that a person has with an aesthetic object or work. Two basic traditions can be distinguished that have played a meaningful role in describing the underlying processes. The British Empiricist and Enlightenment traditions established the idea that the 'real' objective properties of aesthetic works engage viewers and evoke feelings of pleasure. The Romantic tradition placed a greater emphasis on interpretive activity in recipients who 'willingly suspend disbelief' and temporarily enter the 'fictive' worlds of poetry and drama. Writing in the early 20th century, Edward Bullough produced the idea of 'psychical distance', which combines both personal involvement and an awareness that the object or event is a cultural artifact. As the 20th century unfolds, we witness the death of the 'aesthetic object' as such and the emergence of a view that accommodates artists, aesthetic artifacts and receivers as open-ended and interacting systems. The complementary role of the realist and constructivist viewpoints is emphasized.
Background The research aimed to assess, through physiological measurements such as blood pressure and heart rate, whether exposure to art museums and to different art styles (figurative vs. modern art) was able to enhance visitors’ well-being in terms of relaxing and stress reduction. Method Participants (n = 77) were randomly assigned to one of three conditions, on the basis of the typology of the art style they were exposed to in the museum visit: (1) figurative art, (2) modern art and (3) museum office (as a control condition). Blood pressure and heart rate were measured before and after the visits. Results Diastolic values of the participants were quite stable, as expected in people who do not suffer hypertension; we therefore considered only variations in systolic blood pressure. The majority of the participants exposed to figurative art significantly decreased systolic blood pressure compared to those exposed to modern art and museum office. No differences were found in the heart rate before and after the visit for the three groups. Conclusion Findings suggest that museum visits can have health benefits, and figurative art may decrease systolic blood pressure.
The issue of whether viewing works of art by computer or slide is comparable to viewing original paintings was investigated by having visitors to The Metropolitan Museum of Art view works in these three formats and having them rate the works on measures of physical and structural characteristics, novelty of content, and aesthetic qualities. Only four of the sixteen evaluative ratings showed statistically significant results among groups, typically with viewers of the original works differing from viewers in the slide and computer formats. Correlational and factor analyses provided additional support for a notion of “pictorial sameness” for artworks viewed in the three formats. The results are examined in light of Currie's (1985) transferability thesis and the concept of “facsimile accommodation” developed by the authors.
Research has shown that genuine artworks in the museum are appreciated more than reproductions in the laboratory. However, in previous studies, the effects of genuineness (authenticity or originality) and physical context varied together. Therefore, here we attempted to dissociate the impact of genuineness and physical context on the experience of art by using a 2X2 between-subjects design. Participants (N=110) were randomly assigned to one of four conditions: gallery/ genuine, gallery/reproduction, laboratory/genuine, and laboratory/reproduction. They viewed contemporary conceptual artworks and reported their experience on Liking, Interest, Arousal, Valence, and Understanding rating scales. In contrast to our expectations, we found that neither physical context nor genuineness had an effect on participants’ evaluations of the artworks. We discuss several possible rea- sons for these unexpected results. These relate to the nature of the materials and the fundamental role that meaningfulness and personal relevance play in the experience of art.