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Front Psychol. 2017 Feb 7;8:143. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00143. eCollection 2017.

Stability and Variability in Aesthetic Experience: A Review.

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Experimental Psychology Unit, Humanities and Social Sciences, Helmut-Schmidt-University/University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg Hamburg, Germany.


Based on psychophysics' pragmatic dualism, we trace the cognitive neuroscience of stability and variability in aesthetic experience. With regard to different domains of aesthetic processing, we touch upon the relevance of cognitive schemata for aesthetic preference. Attitudes and preferences are explored in detail. Evolutionary constraints on attitude formation or schema generation are elucidated, just as the often seemingly arbitrary influences of social, societal, and cultural nature are. A particular focus is put on the concept of critical periods during an individual's ontogenesis. The latter contrasting with changes of high frequency, such as fashion influences. Taken together, these analyses document the state of the art in the field and, potentially, highlight avenues for future research.


aesthetic experience; aesthetics; art; attitudes; cognitive schemata; experimental aesthetics; scripts; sensitive period

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