ICPS 2019: Aesthetic preferences for neatly organized compositions: A cross-cultural comparison

Abstract

Which factors can predict aesthetic preferences for images of neatly organized compositions, collected on blogs like Things Organized Neatly© (http://thingsorganizedneatly.tumblr.com/)? In an earlier study, focusing on stimulus and person properties related to order and complexity, Dutch-speaking participants (N = 356) indicated their preference for one of two simultaneously presented images (100 pairs) and completed some personality questionnaires. Preferences related to differences in order, soothingness, and fascination ratings between the images in a pair. In the current study, we compared the native Dutch-speaking participants to newly collected data from a native Chinese-speaking sample (N = 220). As in the earlier study, participants indicated their preference for one of two concurrently presented images, and completed a Big Five personality questionnaire and a Personal Need for Structure scale. Overall, preferences were quite similar across cultures (r = .58, p < .0001), and preferences related to differences in soothingness and order for both Dutch-speaking and Chinese-speaking participants (for soothingness, r = .57 and r = .53, ps < .0001, for Dutch and Chinese samples, respectively; for order, r = .36 and r = .33, ps < .001, for Dutch and Chinese samples, respectively). Some interesting differences were found as well, however. Chinese-speaking participants showed an additional preference for simplicity (r = .43, p < .0001) and Dutch-speaking participants one for fascination (r = .58, p < .0001). 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, the results hint at a cross-culturally consistent relationship between order and aesthetic appreciation, but a cross-culturally diverse link between complexity and appreciation. In addition, individual differences in preferences for complexity and fascination related positively with Openness to Experience and negatively with age in both the Dutch- and Chinese-speaking samples, indicating a cross-culturally consistent relationship.

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Paris, France
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