Many visual aspects of paintings, as well as exposure to art and cultural norms, contribute to the aesthetic evaluation of paintings. The current study looked at heightened visual contrast as an important factor in the appreciation of paintings. Participants evaluated abstract digitized paintings that were manipulated in contrast for an appreciation task and were later presented with these paintings in a memory task. The results indicated that for art appreciation, a moderate increase in contrast resulted in the highest appreciation for paintings whereas recognition memory was better for paintings with a higher increase in contrast. These results replicate earlier findings with regard to the role of contrast in aesthetic perception and extend these findings by demonstrating a surprising different effect of contrast manipulation for recognition memory. Confidence with which memory decisions were made was in line with art appreciation decisions not memory performance.

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Frontiers in Psychology
Department of Psychology

Dijkstra, K., & van Dongen, N. (2017). Moderate contrast in the evaluation of paintings is liked more but remembered less than high contrast. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(SEP). doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01507