Stefano Mastandrea

The psychological perspective on arts: theoretical and experimental approaches

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Psychology of the Arts; Aesthetic Experience; Art Museum.

Historically, psychology has outlined three different approaches to the study of the arts, and in the last twenty years, a quarter has been added. These four approaches refer to: 1. The artist and his personality with the contribution of Sigmund Freud and the psychoanalysis of the art; 2. The artwork from a perceptual point of view with the role of Rudolf Arnheim and the psychology of the Gestalt; 3; The experimental aesthetics and the measurement of preference with Gustav Fechner and Daniel Berlyne; 4. The neuroaesthetics and the relationship between the aesthetic perception and the brain, starting from Semir Zeki. Furthermore, three empirical studies referring to the aesthetic experience in museum contexts are reported. The first show that emotional aspects related to the visit were relevant for modern art museum visitors, while a more cognitive approach based on learning characterized ancient art museum visitors. The second study concerned personality traits: people who attend modern art museums seem to be higher in the sensation seeking personality trait compared to people who visit ancient art museums. In addition, the emotions aroused by visitors to the museum of modern art reached higher scores compared to visitors of the museum of ancient art. The last study showed, through physiological measurements such as blood pressure and heart rate, that exposure to art museum and precisely of figurative art was able to enhance visitors' well-being in terms of the decreasing of blood pressure. The final aim is to show that psychology, from both a theoretical and an experimental perspective, can give a significant contribution to the increasingly understanding of the arts.

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