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Beyond the Golden Section and Normative Aesthetics: Why Do Individuals Differ so Much in Their Aesthetic Preferences for Rectangles?

McManus, IC; Cook, R; Hunt, A; (2010) Beyond the Golden Section and Normative Aesthetics: Why Do Individuals Differ so Much in Their Aesthetic Preferences for Rectangles? PSYCHOL AESTHET CREA , 4 (2) 113 - 126. 10.1037/a0017316.

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Abstract

Interest in the experimental aesthetics of rectangles originates in the studies of Fechner (1876), which investigated Zeising's suggestion that Golden Section ratios determine the aesthetic appeal of great works of art. Although Fechner's studies are often cited to support the centrality of the Golden Section, a century of subsequent experimental work suggests it has little normative role in rectangle preferences. However, rectangles are still of interest to experimental aesthetics, and McManus (1980) used a paired comparison method to show that although population preferences are weak, there are strong, stable, statistically robust and very varied individual preferences. The present study measured rectangle preferences in 79 participants, particularly assessing their relationship to a wide range of background measures of individual differences. Once again weak population preferences but strong and varied individual rectangle preferences were found, and computer presentation of stimuli, with detailed analyses of response times, confirmed the coherent nature of aesthetic preferences for rectangles. Q-mode factor analysis found two main factors, labeled "square" and "rectangle," with participants showing different combinations of positive and negative loadings on these factors. However, the individual difference measures, including Big Five personality traits, Need for Cognition, Tolerance of Ambiguity, Schizotypy, Vocational Types, and Aesthetic Activities, showed no correlation at all with rectangle preferences. Individual differences in rectangle preferences are a robust phenomenon that clearly requires explanation, but at present their variability is entirely unexplained.

Type: Article
Title: Beyond the Golden Section and Normative Aesthetics: Why Do Individuals Differ so Much in Their Aesthetic Preferences for Rectangles?
DOI: 10.1037/a0017316
Keywords: Experimental aesthetics, rectangles, Golden Section, individual differences, preference functions, PERSONALITY
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > UCL Medical School
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/85153
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