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      Psycho-Historical Contextualization for Music and Visual Works: A Literature Review and Comparison Between Artistic Mediums

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      Frontiers in Psychology

      Frontiers Media S.A.

      appreciation, preference, music, visual art, context, program notes

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          Abstract

          A significant contribution to the literature on aesthetics in the last decade has been Bullot and Reber's ecologically-driven psycho-historical framework for the science of art appreciation (PHF). The framework proposes that the presence of contextualizing information accompanying an artwork will impart a substantial impact on appreciation for it, which is accessible through understanding of the causal information surrounding the work. Artistic understanding is outlined in terms of three hierarchical “modes” of appreciation. This paper tested a simplified hypothesis drawn from the PHF, using results reported in the existing literature. As Bullot and Reber note that such a framework is relevant for any artistic medium containing causal information, results were drawn from literature concerned with either music or visual works. Our review identified 34 studies that reported results of appreciation (or equivalent) as a dependent variable, while manipulating contextual/historical information for the stimuli as an independent variable. Overall the results were consistent across the two artistic mediums: 9 experiments (26%) produced strong support for the PHF, 6 experiments (18%) produced inconclusive results, and 19 experiments (56%) produced no support for the PHF. We concluded that the majority of the reviewed literature does not support the simplified PHF hypothesis for either medium. However, we also discuss a number of limitations surrounding these studies which may have produced a substantial impact on the categorization results: small sample sizes in some studies, difficulty in translating philosophically-based theory into empirical practice, and interactions with variables such as exposure and “unusualness.”

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          Most cited references 49

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          Understanding Power and Rules of Thumb for Determining Sample Sizes

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            Experimental methods: Between-subject and within-subject design

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              Modulation of aesthetic value by semantic context: an fMRI study.

              Aesthetic judgments, like most judgments, depend on context. Whether an object or image is seen in daily life or in an art gallery can significantly modulate the aesthetic value humans attach to it. We investigated the neural system supporting this modulation by presenting human subjects with artworks under different contexts whilst acquiring fMRI data. Using the same database of artworks, we randomly labelled images as being either sourced from a gallery or computer generated. Subjects' aesthetic ratings were significantly higher for stimuli viewed in the 'gallery' than 'computer' contexts. This contextual modulation correlated with activity in the medial orbitofrontal cortex and prefrontal cortex, whereas the context, independent of aesthetic value, correlated with bilateral activations of temporal pole and bilateral entorhinal cortex. This shows that prefrontal and orbitofrontal cortices recruited by aesthetic judgments are significantly biased by subjects' prior expectations about the likely hedonic value of stimuli according to their source.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                19 February 2019
                2019
                : 10
                Affiliations
                Empirical Musicology Laboratory, School of the Arts and Media, University of New South Wales , Sydney, NSW, Australia
                Author notes

                Edited by: Misha Vorobyev, The University of Auckland, New Zealand

                Reviewed by: Nicolas J. Bullot, Charles Darwin University, Australia; Rossana Actis-Grosso, Università degli studi di Milano Bicocca, Italy

                *Correspondence: Emery Schubert e.schubert@ 123456unsw.edu.au

                This article was submitted to Perception Science, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00182
                6389697
                Copyright © 2019 Chmiel and Schubert.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 2, Tables: 1, Equations: 0, References: 55, Pages: 11, Words: 8278
                Categories
                Psychology
                Systematic Review

                Clinical Psychology & Psychiatry

                program notes, context, visual art, music, preference, appreciation

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