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Iperception. 2012;3(2):112-40. doi: 10.1068/i0455aap. Epub 2012 Feb 29.

Aesthetic valence of visual illusions.

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  • 1Graduate School of Letters, Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto, 56-1 Toji-in Kitamachi, Kita-ku, Kyoto 603-8577, Japan; e-mail: ;


Visual illusions constitute an interesting perceptual phenomenon, but they also have an aesthetic and affective dimension. We hypothesized that the illusive nature itself causes the increased aesthetic and affective valence of illusions compared with their non-illusory counterparts. We created pairs of stimuli. One qualified as a standard visual illusion whereas the other one did not, although they were matched in as many perceptual dimensions as possible. The phenomenal quality of being an illusion had significant effects on "Aesthetic Experience" (fascinating, irresistible, exceptional, etc), "Evaluation" (pleasant, cheerful, clear, bright, etc), "Arousal" (interesting, imaginative, complex, diverse, etc), and "Regularity" (balanced, coherent, clear, realistic, etc). A subsequent multiple regression analysis suggested that Arousal was a better predictor of Aesthetic Experience than Evaluation. The findings of this study demonstrate that illusion is a phenomenal quality of the percept which has measurable aesthetic and affective valence.


a-ha experience; aesthetic experience; collative aspects of illusion; subjective judgment of a form; visual illusions

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