Do aesthetic preferences for images of neatly organized compositions (e.g., images collected on blogs like Things Organized Neatly©) generalize across cultures? In an earlier study (Van Geert & Wagemans, 2019), focusing on stimulus and person properties related to order and complexity, Dutch-speaking participants (N = 421) indicated their preference for one of two simultaneously presented images (100 pairs) and completed questionnaires such as the Big Five Inventory and the Personal Need for Structure scale. Preferences related to differences in order, soothingness, and fascination ratings between the images in a pair. In the current study, we compared the data of the native Dutch-speaking participants from this earlier sample (N = 356) to newly collected data from a native Chinese-speaking sample (N = 220). Overall, aesthetic preferences were quite similar across cultures, and preferences related to differences in soothingness and order between the images in a pair for both Chinese-speaking and Dutch-speaking participants. However, some interesting differences were found as well. Chinese-speaking participants showed an additional preference for simplicity, and Dutch-speaking participants for fascination. As fascination ratings of the images related positively with measures of order and complexity, whereas soothingness ratings related positively with order and negatively with complexity (Van Geert & Wagemans, 2019), these results hint at a cross-culturally consistent relationship between order and aesthetic appreciation, but a cross-culturally diverse link between complexity and appreciation.
Van Geert, E., Ding, R., & Wagemans, J. (2021). A cross-cultural comparison of aesthetic preferences for neatly organized compositions: Native Chinese- vs. native Dutch-speaking samples [Preprint]. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/679zm