Neue Themen für Masterarbeiten - New Master thesis topics

The nature of beauty. Beauty is omnipresent, and has enormous effects on how people are perceived- and also treated. However, so far it is unclear how beauty in faces is perceived or evaluated (see Leder et al., 2017). In this master thesis project we investigate this topic by employing brand new portable EEG for the first time in combination with brand new NIRS; two state-of-the-art neurophysiological methods. If you are interested (and for further information), please contact helmut.leder@univie.ac.at

Beauty as a shortcut. If people decide what they prefer, decision making theories assume that values on various dimensions are combined to find an optimal criterion, and make „good decision“.  Here we test the hypothesis that there are shortcuts towards good decisions, such as beauty based evaluations. If you are interested (and for further information), please contact helmut.leder@univie.ac.at or michael.forster@univie.ac.at

Size Matters.  In art as in life, size may play an important role in our judgements and emotional experience. However, as we know from visual illusions such as the Ebbinghaus illusion our perception of size is not absolute but rather influenced by the context. Here we test the hypothesis that size influences our aesthetic experience as well as investigate the role of context. If you are interested (and for further information), please contact michael.forster@univie.ac.at or eva.specker@univie.ac.at

Style or content?  The expressive quality of art can be achieved in many ways, for example by a choice of content (e.g. a happy couple in love) but also by choices on how to portray that content or “style” (e.g. use of color). Content and style can both express similar messages but also seemingly contradict each other creating more ambiguous art. In this project we want to investigate how these two interact and how this influences our aesthetic judgements. If you are interested (and for further information), please contact michael.forster@univie.ac.at or eva.specker@univie.ac.at

Looking for beauty. What makes aesthetic evaluations special? This Master thesis topic should provide some insight into the question whether an aesthetic mode of processing is in any way different from other modes of processing. In an eye-tracking study we want to test whether eye-movement patterns differ between looking for beauty vs. looking for other dimensions in the image. If you are interested (and for further information), please contact michael.forster@univie.ac.at

Time course and structure of symmetry preference. It has been hypothesized that while symmetry is often considered to be beautiful, it can also be seen as somewhat rigid or sterile. However, empirical studies showed that abstract symmetric patterns are preferred over asymmetric and also over slightly asymmetric patterns. The goal of this master topic will be to investigate if this preference for symmetry is stable for different dimensions of aesthetic judgments (e.g., liking vs. interest) and presentation times (e.g, short vs. long). If you are interested (and for further information), please contact andreas.gartus@univie.ac.at

Feeling of Art It can be argued that one of the prime motives and functions of art is to communicate emotions. But how come is this the case, and how is this achieved? Is there anything special about art, compared to other, more “normal” settings and stimuli? Do the intended emotions actually reach the perceiver of the artworks? And which (neuro)physiological components and brain regions underlie these processes? We offer Master theses exploring these questions, using Electroencephalography (EEG) and functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) in classical lab settings as well as in ecologically valid field studies, i.e. museum settings. If you are interested (and for further information,) please contact patrick.markey@univie.ac.at

Empathic connections between brains and bodies of viewers/artists, using NIRS hyperscanning: Humans appear naturally inclined to broadcasting and receiving each other’s emotional experiences. Studies routinely document our ability respond to others’ affective states, often via faces or bodies. However, while well-studied in interpersonal settings, the question of whether, and how, this can occur in the absence of another human is a major question. Specifically, in visual art, a longstanding argument involves the potential for these media to act as a “proxy” for the artist body, providing an interface whereby one can “feel in” to share or make an emotional connection with another.  We will do this in a project (including Master theses) whereby we work with artists when making, and views when perceiving the same artworks. This will be coupled with a new paradigm—NIRS hyperscanning—which can look for synchronicity or connections between the brains of individuals. If interested, contact matthew.pelowski@univie.ac.at