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Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2008 Sep;34(9):1260-75. doi: 10.1177/0146167208320555.

Culture and aesthetic preference: comparing the attention to context of East Asians and Americans.

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Department of Psychology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Prior research indicates that East Asians are more sensitive to contextual information than Westerners. This article explored aesthetics to examine whether cultural variations were observable in art and photography. Study 1 analyzed traditional artistic styles using archival data in representative museums. Study 2 investigated how contemporary East Asians and Westerners draw landscape pictures and take portrait photographs. Study 3 further investigated aesthetic preferences for portrait photographs. The results suggest that (a) traditional East Asian art has predominantly context-inclusive styles, whereas Western art has predominantly object-focused styles, and (b) contemporary members of East Asian and Western cultures maintain these culturally shaped aesthetic orientations. The findings can be explained by the relation among attention, cultural resources, and aesthetic preference.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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