December 2022
Volume 22, Issue 14
Open Access
Vision Sciences Society Annual Meeting Abstract  |   December 2022
The effect of stories on beauty judgment
Author Affiliations
  • Ashley Feng
    New York University
  • Maria Pombo
    New York University
  • Denis Pelli
    New York University
Journal of Vision December 2022, Vol.22, 3837. doi:
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      Ashley Feng, Maria Pombo, Denis Pelli; The effect of stories on beauty judgment. Journal of Vision 2022;22(14):3837.

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

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In everyday life, we often factor in external information to make decisions. For example, prior research demonstrates that the titles of the stimuli, such as art or music, will influence participants’ aesthetic judgements. However, most of this research has been applied to art or advertising and not everyday snapshots. Here, we wondered if we could empirically manipulate the beauty experience of an image with a story. 14 participants rated, on a scale from 1 (not at all) to 7 (very much), the beauty of 24 OASIS images paired with a negative, neutral, or positive story, such as “this lake has flesh-eating bacteria,” “this lake is in the mountains,” or “someone successfully proposed here.” The resulting change in beauty ratings would then demonstrate if stories can alter the amount of beauty perceived. A one-way ANOVA reveals that the effect of stories on the beauty of an image has a highly statistically significant effect (p<0.001) and a post hoc analysis showed that positive, neutral, and negative stories were all statistically different from each other (p<0.001). Participants reported more beauty for images with a positive story; furthermore, participants also reported less beauty for images with a negative story. Upon further exploration, it seems that the more beautiful the image, the more a negative story will taint the perceived beauty, but the more ugly the image, the more a positive story will help “beautify” it. Thus, we were able to replicate the effect of external information on aesthetic judgements with image stimuli, which are more representative of our everyday experiences.


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