Hannah L. Lieber, Ashley Ann Marshall, Madeleine L. Schneider, Paulina E. Rosequist, Margaret Wedell



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Though one may assume that the reactions to two nearly identical works of art would be similar, the medium in which art is presented can influence an individual’s perception of the work (Locher et al., 2006). The present study evaluates aesthetic preferences for faces, specifically, relating to those influenced by art; this is done by comparing reactions when viewing classic portraits and photographic renderings of those portraits. Simultaneously portraits and photographs of faces, matched for variables such as gender, artistic medium, ethnicity, face shape, facial hair, hair color, eye color, and facial position (full or profile), are shown to participants while the participant is wearing an eye-tracker, which measures aesthetic pleasingness, based on points of interests on the portraits and photographs. Participants were assigned to one of two conditions; in Condition A, participants were asked which image they found more aesthetically pleasing, while in Condition B, participants were asked which image they would be more likely to purchase. We hypothesize that measures of ocular gaze (i.e., visual scan paths, fixation times, and pupil dilations) assessed by eye-tracking equipment will demonstrate that eye-scanning movements and eye-fixations will focus more on features of the portraits than on similar features in the photographs. This data should also correlate with the subjective ratings completed in an earlier experiment that measured subjective responses alone. In addition, participants should respond similarly in both conditions; portraits that are high in aesthetic pleasingness should also be high in likelihood of purchase. Results from this research have implications in marketing and product development, particularly in the realm of art. In addition, we have a better understanding of what is commonly considered “art” and how that consideration adds to perceived value. The comparison of the physiological measures and the subjective ratings allows for a better understanding of the relationship between body and mind.

Publication Date


Project Designation

Independent Research

Primary Advisor

Susan T. Davis, Scott T. Wagoner

Primary Advisor's Department



Stander Symposium project


Arts and Humanities | Business | Education | Engineering | Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences | Physical Sciences and Mathematics | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Assessing Aesthetic Preferences for Faces with Measures of Ocular Gaze