How Do You Like Your Art?

Science Fields

How come an art piece arouse feelings of both admiration and rejection? Could we be focusing on different parts of an art piece? A study by James Cook University suggests that our prospect and perception on art is determined by our mental condition.

Nicole Thomas, a psychology lecturer in James Cook University thinks that our personality and the way we examine artwork may be contributing to our preference for a particular style of art. For example, neurotic people were found to be drawn to abstract and pop art more.

All voluntary participants of the study were first evaluated by their personalities before being shown a series of abstract artwork. They were then asked to grade and name a price for all the pictures, while researchers tracked their eye movements.

Participants’ eyes generally focused on the upper right part of the pictures, a fact explained by the authors with these words: “The right hemisphere of the brain plays a significant role in emotional processing. Artwork is inherently emotional and the emotional reactions elicited by abstract artwork might lead people to focus their attention within the upper right quadrant to better engage that emotional processing.”

People who tended towards neuroticism, on the other hand, paid more attention to the left side of a picture, and those with traits related to schizophrenia looked less often at the top.


  • 1. https://www.jcu.edu.au/news/releases/2018/april/art-is-in-the-eye-of-the-beholder