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James Schirillo; Mondrian, eye movements, and the oblique effect. Journal of Vision 2007;7(9):26. doi: 10.1167/7.9.26.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Observers prefer paintings by Mondrian in their original orientation compared to when rotated - “The Oblique Effect” (Latto, et. al., 2000). We tested whether eye movements provide any insight into this aesthetic bias. We presented 8 Mondrian paintings (1921–1944) on a CRT in either their original or seven rotated positions to 10 observers. These 64 images were presented pseudo-randomly for 20 sec each while recording eye movement fixation duration and saccade length. During the 5 sec ISI observers used a 1–7 Likert-scale to report how (dis)pleasing they found each image. In 6 cases an original orientation was judged as significantly more pleasing that a rotated image, while a rotated image was preferred in 3 cases. Overall, over the 20 sec trial interval, fixation durations increased linearly, where pleasing images fixation duration increased more than non-pleasing images. Moreover, saccade distances oscillated over the viewing interval; with the pleasing image fit being more variable (i.e., saccade distance oscillations were larger) than the non-pleasing image fit. Both these findings agree with earlier work by Nodine, Lochear and colleague; and suggest that the more pleasing an abstract painting is, the greater the diversive/specific types of image exploration become (Berlyne, 1971).
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