Look and feel

Kevin Lewis

July 29, 2017

Great Works: A Reciprocal Relationship Between Spatial Magnitudes and Aesthetic Judgment
Angelika Seidel & Jesse Prinz
Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, forthcoming

Inspired by the work of the great aestheticians of the 1700s and modern psychological work in spatial cognition, we sought to test the bidirectional relationship between spatial magnitudes and aesthetic value. In a series of 5 experiments, we show that changing the size and position of a painting can impact judgments of its aesthetic value, and conversely. The same painting is believed to be larger when presented as a master artist's versus as a student's work (Experiment 1). Increasing the size of painting makes it seem better (Experiment 2). A painting presented as a master's work appears larger, closer, and better than when presented as a fake (Experiment 3). Master artists' paintings are recommended to be placed higher on the wall than students' paintings (Experiment 4). Finally, when hung high, a painting is judged better than when it is presented at eye level, and worse when it is presented below eye level (Experiment 5). Together these findings demonstrate a reciprocal relationship between the greatness of a work and its spatial position and scale.

The Dark Side of Fluency: Fluent Names Increase Drug Dosing
Simone Dohle & Amanda Montoya
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied
, forthcoming

Prior research has demonstrated that high processing fluency influences a wide range of evaluations and behaviors in a positive way. But can high processing fluency also lead to potentially hazardous medical behavior? In 2 controlled experiments, we demonstrate that increasing the fluency of pharmaceutical drug names increases drug dosage. Experiment 1 shows that drugs with fluent names are perceived as safer than those with disfluent names and this effect increases drug dosage for both synthetically produced and herbal drugs. Experiment 2 demonstrates that people chose a higher dosage for themselves and for a child if the drug bears a fluent (vs. disfluent) name. Using linear regression based mediation analysis, we investigated the underlying mechanisms for the effect of fluency on risk perception in more detail. Contrary to prior research, we find that affect, but not familiarity, mediates the fluency-risk link. Our findings suggest that a drug name's fluency is a powerful driver of dosing behavior.

Social Distance Increases Perceived Physical Distance
Andrea Stevenson Won, Ketaki Shriram & Diana Tamir
Social Psychological and Personality Science, forthcoming

Proximity, or spatial closeness, can generate social closeness - the closer people are together, the more they interact, affiliate, and befriend one another. Mediated communication allows people to bridge spatial distance and can increase social closeness between conversational partners, even when they are separated by distance. However, mediated communication may not always make people feel closer together. Here, we test a hypothesis derived from construal theory, about one way in which mediated communication might increase spatial distance, by imposing social distance between two texting partners. In three studies, the social distance generated by a text conversation correlated with estimates of spatial distance. Conversations designed to generate social distance increased estimates of spatial distance. We discuss this relationship in light of the rise in computer-mediated communication.

The world looks better together: How close others enhance our visual experiences
Erica Boothby et al.
Personal Relationships, forthcoming

People derive a number of benefits from sharing experiences with close others. However, most research on this topic has been restricted to forms of sharing involving explicit socializing, including verbal communication, emotion expression, and behavioral interaction. In two studies, these complexities were eliminated to find out whether merely experiencing visual stimuli (photographs) simultaneously with a close other - without communicating - enhances people's evaluations of those stimuli relative to coexperiencing the same stimuli with a stranger or alone. Compared to when viewers were alone, visual scenes were enhanced (better liked and seen as more real) when coexperienced with a close other and were liked less when coexperienced with a stranger. Implications for close relationships are discussed.

Physical Proximity Increases Persuasive Effectiveness through Visual Imagery
Yanli Jia et al.
Journal of Consumer Psychology, forthcoming

Six experiments converged on the conclusion that consumers' physical distance from the verbal description of an event or a product can influence their beliefs in its implications. For example, participants' proximity to information about the likelihood of surviving an airline crash can influence their expectations that there would be survivors of a real-life airplane accident, and being close to the description of a commercial product can influence beliefs that the product would be effective. These and other effects are mediated by the vividness of the mental image that participants form on the basis of the information. Consequently, the effects were attenuated when participants are under high cognitive load or when the verbal description lacks the detail necessary for forming a clear mental image. Alternative interpretations in terms of task involvement, perceptual fluency and construal levels are evaluated.

Our own action kinematics predict the perceived affective states of others
Rosanna Edey et al.
Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, July 2017, Pages 1263-1268

Our movement kinematics provide useful cues about our affective states. Given that our experiences furnish models that help us to interpret our environment, and that a rich source of action experience comes from our own movements, in the present study, we examined whether we use models of our own action kinematics to make judgments about the affective states of others. For example, relative to one's typical kinematics, anger is associated with fast movements. Therefore, the extent to which we perceive anger in others may be determined by the degree to which their movements are faster than our own typical movements. We related participants' walking kinematics in a neutral context to their judgments of the affective states conveyed by observed point-light walkers (PLWs). As predicted, we found a linear relationship between one's own walking kinematics and affective state judgments, such that faster participants rated slower emotions more intensely relative to their ratings for faster emotions. This relationship was absent when observing PLWs where differences in velocity between affective states were removed. These findings suggest that perception of affective states in others is predicted by one's own movement kinematics, with important implications for perception of, and interaction with, those who move differently.

Photographic Memory: The Effects of Volitional Photo Taking on Memory for Visual and Auditory Aspects of an Experience
Alixandra Barasch et al.
Psychological Science, forthcoming

How does volitional photo taking affect unaided memory for visual and auditory aspects of experiences? Across one field and three lab studies, we found that, even without revisiting any photos, participants who could freely take photographs during an experience recognized more of what they saw and less of what they heard, compared with those who could not take any photographs. Further, merely taking mental photos had similar effects on memory. These results provide support for the idea that photo taking induces a shift in attention toward visual aspects and away from auditory aspects of an experience. Additional findings were in line with this mechanism: Participants with a camera had better recognition of aspects of the scene that they photographed than of aspects they did not photograph. Furthermore, participants who used a camera during their experience recognized even nonphotographed aspects better than participants without a camera did. Meta-analyses including all reported studies support these findings.

Illusory Increases in Font Size Improve Letter Recognition
Martin Lages, Stephanie Boyle & Rob Jenkins
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Visual performance of human observers depends not only on the optics of the eye and early sensory encoding but also on subsequent cortical processing and representations. In two experiments, we demonstrated that motion adaptation can enhance as well as impair visual acuity. Observers who experienced an expanding motion aftereffect exhibited improved letter recognition, whereas observers who experienced a contracting motion aftereffect showed impaired letter recognition. We conclude that illusory enlargement and shrinkage of a visual stimulus can modulate visual acuity.

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