The Impact of Accompanying Text on Visual Processing and Hedonic Evaluation of Art

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-198
Journal / PublicationEmpirical Studies of the Arts
Issue number2
Online published27 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018


This study explores how accompanying text affects the way an individual views and interprets a painting. We randomly assigned participants to view 20 paintings from the classical era with factual information, contextualized background information, or no information displayed next to them. We then recorded their visual gaze using an eye-tracking device and asked them to evaluate the paintings. The results show that how people view a painting and how they evaluate a painting are two distinct cog- nitive processes. The contextual information serves to orient the viewing process. The accompanying text influences the visual attention and gaze pattern but has limited impact on the hedonic evaluation of paintings. Instead, hedonic evaluation is more of a taste acquired through education and socialization. This study offers an empirical footnote to discussions on the cognitive assumptions in sociological studies of art and cultural phenomena.

Research Area(s)

  • art appreciation, eye movement, hedonic evaluation, information, sociology of art, visual processing