Rebecca Chamberlain, Daniel Berio, Veronika Mayer, Kirren Chana, Frederic Fol Leymarie and Guido Orgs

A dot that went for a walk: People prefer lines drawn with human-like kinematics

British Journal of Psychology

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A dominant theory of embodied aesthetic experience (Freedberg & Gallese, 2007, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 197) posits that the appreciation of visual art is linked to the artist’s movements when creating the artwork, yet a direct link between the kinematics of drawing actions and the aesthetics of drawing outcomes has not been experimentally demonstrated. Across four experiments, we measured aesthetic responses of students from arts and non-arts backgrounds to drawing movements generated from computational models of human writing. Experiment 1 demonstrated that human-like drawing movements with bell-shaped velocity profiles (Sigma Lognormal [SL] and Minimum Jerk [MJ]) are perceived as more natural and pleasant than movements with a uniform profile, and in both Experiments 1 and 2 movements that were perceived as more natural were also preferred. Experiment 3 showed that this effect persists if lower-level dynamic stimulus features are fully matched across experimental and control conditions. Furthermore, aesthetic preference for human-like movements were associated with greater perceptual fluency in Experiment 3, evidenced by unbiased estimations of the duration of natural movements. In Experiment 4, line drawings with visual features consistent with the dynamics of natural, human-like movements were preferred, but only by art students. Our findings directly link the aesthetics of human action to the visual aesthetics of drawings, but highlight the importance of incorporating artistic expertise into embodied accounts of aesthetic experience.

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