December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
Scene Contour Junctions Influence Visual Aesthetics
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Delaram Farzanfar
    Department of Psychology, University of Toronto
  • Dirk B. Walther
    Department of Psychology, University of Toronto
  • Footnotes
    Acknowledgements  Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 3308. doi:
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      Delaram Farzanfar, Dirk B. Walther; Scene Contour Junctions Influence Visual Aesthetics. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):3308.

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      © ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)

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Artists have used contour junctions to evoke aesthetic appreciation for works of art across different cultures (Cavanagh, 2005; Sayim & Cavanagh, 2011). Contour junctions are crucial for object recognition (Biederman, 1987), and scene categorization (Walther & Shen, 2014). Given their prominence in visual perception, junctions may also explain a shared human taste for visual aesthetics. The impact of contour junctions on aesthetic judgements has not yet been empirically studied. We examined whether the presence of different types of contour junctions predicts aesthetic preferences for real-world scenes. Line drawings were created by trained artists from photographs of natural scenes. Contour junctions were detected at the intersections of lines and characterized based on the angles between them into different types: X, T, Y, and Arrow junctions, according to methods described by Walther & Shen, 2014. Participants on Prolific were presented with images and asked the following question: “How much do you enjoy viewing this image?”. Aesthetic responses were collected on a 5-point Likert scale (1= not at all to 5= enjoy very much). A linear mixed-effects model was applied to control for individual differences. We found evidence that contour junctions predict human aesthetic preferences for scenes (R-squared = 0.39). Across different individuals, an increase in the number of T, Y and Arrow junctions in a scene was associated with higher aesthetic ratings for that scene, whereas the presence of X junctions was negatively associated with aesthetic ratings. Importantly, the effect of T junctions persisted for scene categories belonging to natural and urban environments. Our results show that informative scene regions are associated with aesthetic appreciation for real-world scenes. Contour junctions facilitate shape recognition which leads to perceptual fluency or ease of information processing. We may enjoy recognizing familiar visual anchors (e.g., right angles) when viewing scenes because they help us identify affordances.


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