Adam Barnas, Daniel A. Hurlburt, Hannah L. Lieber, Paulina E. Rosequist, Margaret A. Wedell



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In evaluating an image, the medium in which it is presented (e.g., photography, painting, digital art), among other factors, impacts preference (Lacey et al., 2011). To this end, we set out to determine preference for faces in paintings compared to photographic renderings of paintings. A photographic rendering depicts the same content and arrangement of features that the painting includes. Paintings and photographs were chosen out of a larger stimulus pool in which participants viewed each image separately and provided scale ratings of beauty and aesthetic pleasingness. Mean ratings for these attributes were compared to mean ratings of similarity for the same paintings and photographs that had been matched and presented together. Consequently, stimuli rated high in similarity, beauty, and aesthetic pleasingness were selected for a subsequent study. For this study, participants will evaluate faces in paintings and photographic renderings of paintings, as well. However, they will provide subjective ratings of aesthetic pleasingness, similarity and perceived value of the stimuli while head-mounted cameras record measures of ocular gaze (i.e., visual scan paths, fixation times, and pupil dilations). We predict that faces in paintings will be rated higher in aesthetic pleasingness as compared to the photographic renderings because of the perceived artistic value of the paintings. Furthermore, we expect subjective ratings to correlate with measures of ocular gaze directed toward features that determine aesthetic value and preferences for faces in paintings versus faces in photographs. Results from this study have implications in marketing and product development, as well as improving our understanding of what is considered art and how it adds to perceived value. Furthermore, the use of physiological measures, such as those of ocular gaze, along with the ubiquitous subjective ratings stands to illuminate better the intimate relationship between body and mind.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Susan T. Davis

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium poster

Do Measures of Ocular Gaze Correlate with Subjective Ratings in Assessing Aesthetic Preferences for Faces?