Expressive qualities of synthetic textures.

Branka Spehar*, Jasmina Stevanov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Expressive qualities, including aesthetic appeal, are ubiquitous and among the most salient aspects of our experience. While there is an overwhelming tendency to (mis)characterize these qualities as emotions, Gestalt psychologists have argued that they could be better understood in the context of physiognomic perception, which is indivisible into separate, and sequential, perceptual, and affective components. A further implicit mainstream assumption is that the complex phenomenal qualities (e.g., aesthetics) can be elicited only by complex configurations (art) and that the perception of less complex, less extraordinary, configurations is devoid of perceived expressive qualities. Here we probe the link between stimulus structure, visual preference, and phenomenal experience of synthetic textures varying in their spatial-scaling characteristics (the amplitude spectrum). In particular, we focus on whether the observed variations in visual preference are concomitant with the corresponding variations in perceived expressive qualities of these synthetic images. As such, this study is situated between psychophysics and phenomenology in investigating whether the parametric manipulation of spatial-scaling properties in synthetic textures have similar effect in these domains. We compare visual preference (two-alternative forced-choice, 2AFC) and expressive properties measured with the semantic differential scales assessing affective evaluation, arousal, structural regularity, and aesthetic impressions as a function of variation in amplitude spectra of synthetic images. The results show similar relationship between stimulus structure, psychophysical preference, and perceived expressive qualities, supporting the meaningful interrelationship between psychophysical and expressive evaluations of synthetic images and their aesthetic appeal.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice.
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2021


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