General, Research, Technology

Works of art affect well-being

Characteristics of a work of art havea great influence on the emotional state of museum visitors. Psychologists from the University of Basel argue that aesthetic experience involves a complex interaction of different ways of perceiving and emerging cognitive processes that help a person experience a particular emotional state. Such properties of works of art as coloring and image content play a role in the appearance of an aesthetic perception by the observer, which scientists were able to officially fix in one of their observations.

How do you feel when you look at Mona Lisa?

Pictures can affect a person’s mood

Art can influenceemotional state of a person. According to an article published on, researchers from the University of Basel, under the guidance of psychologists Professor Jens Gaab and Professor Klaus Opvis, studied the degree to which contextual information from a work of art affects the aesthetic experience in a real exhibition situation. They paid special attention to the question of how exactly various types of information influence the well-being and aesthetic perception of museum visitors.

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Previous studies have shown thatcontextual information significantly affects the perception and experience of a person. For example, the taste of wine seems to consumers better when its price is higher. As part of a new experiment, 75 participants visited the Future Present exhibition at the Schaulager Museum in Munich and examined six paintings by various artists of the Flemish expressionism era. The participants were divided into two groups, representatives of one of which was asked to listen to detailed information about the paintings presented. After visiting the exhibition, both groups rated the intensity of their aesthetic experience in a special questionnaire. In addition, the researchers also measured the level of emotions of each participant by taking psychophysiological data, such as heart rate and skin conduction.

James Ensor painting Les masques intrigués

Detailed descriptions of the submittedPictures will have a greater impact on cognitive processes and aesthetic experience than simple, brief information about the same images. However, the results of the experiment showed that neither brief nor detailed information affected the aesthetic perception of the representatives of both groups. However, the properties of the works of art themselves influenced the aesthetic experience of the participants. The observed physical reactions were much more intense when both groups examined the paintings presented to them, and the emotional response of each volunteer differed depending on a particular image. The greatest reaction from the point of view of aesthetic experience was the work of 1930 by James Ensor's Les masques intrigués. Researchers believe that a very extravagant manner of presentation of the artist, which seemed to the audience absurd and bizarre, could lead to similar results.

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Thus, visitors to exhibitions and museumsit is not necessary to know the information about the presented work of art, since the emotional state of a person is affected, first of all, by the context of the museum and the works exhibited there. In other words, art in this case is able to speak for itself.