In Addition to Improving Memory for Paintings, Self-generation of Elaborative Titles Increases Aesthetic Preferences
Aesthetic preferences are influenced by factors such as context surrounding art (e.g., titled photographs; Millis, 2001). In addition, self-generation of context information influences the strength of memory, in general. The present study examined the influence of titles that are participant-generated on aesthetic preferences and memory for paintings. For each painting, there were two types of titles generated: elaborative (evoking a deeper thought process, such as “Water Sustains Life” for a painting of a bridge over a stream) or descriptive (naming objects in the painting, such as “Bridge over Water.” All participants were first exposed to paintings without titles. Participants were then exposed to the same paintings in a different order and generated their own titles consistent with either elaborative or descriptive titling instructions and were asked questions assessing preferences: if they liked the painting, if they would buy the painting, and if they would hang the painting in their home. Control participants also rated the paintings, without the titles and without generating titles. After the ratings, all participants completed a task to distract from rehearsing memory for the paintings, and then viewed the original paintings intermingled with paintings not seen earlier to test their memory for the original paintings. We hypothesized that participants would exhibit greater preferences and better memory for paintings with self-generated elaborative titles than for those with self-generated descriptive or no titles. Our earlier research found that preference and memory were stronger for the paintings with elaborative and descriptive titles than for those with no titles. However, memory and confidence in the accuracy of memory was stronger for paintings with descriptive than for those with elaborative or no titles. The results of the present experiment suggest that the deeper cognitive processing of self-generated elaboration enhances an aesthetic experience when viewing paintings and makes the paintings more memorable.
Susan T Davis
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium poster
"In Addition to Improving Memory for Paintings, Self-generation of Elaborative Titles Increases Aesthetic Preferences" (2019). Stander Symposium Posters. 1726.