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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
¨ner
1,2
, Eva Specker
2,3
,
and Helmut Leder
1
Abstract
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.
Keywords
museum study, style, original, reproduction, painting, art appreciation, art evaluation
1
Department of Basic Psychological Research and Research Methods, Faculty of Psychology, University of
Vienna, Austria
2
Department of Traffic and Engineering Psychology, Faculty of Psychology, Technische Universit
at
Braunschweig, Germany
3
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
Universit
at Braunschweig, Braunschweig, Germany.
Email: susanne.gruener@tu-braunschweig.de
Empirical Studies of the Arts
0(0) 1–15
!The Author(s) 2019
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/0276237418822896
journals.sagepub.com/home/art
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.
Context
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.
Genuineness
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,
Gru
¨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.
Context
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.
Genuineness
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).
Method
Participants
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
Gru
¨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.
Materials
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).
Procedure
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.
Results
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,
Gru
¨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.
Museum/G
enuine
(n¼39)
Museum/R
eproduction
(n¼36)
Laboratory/G
enuine
(n¼41)
Laboratory/R
eproduction
(n¼39)
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.
Gru
¨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
p¼.03.
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.
Discussion
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)
Gru
¨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.
Acknowledgments
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.
Gru
¨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.
Funding
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
Universit
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.
Gru
¨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. ...
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