Positive fEMG Patterns with Ambiguity in Paintings

Authors/others:Jakesch, Martina; Goller, Jürgen; Leder, Helmut
Abstract:Whereas ambiguity in everyday life is often negatively evaluated, it is considered key in art appreciation. In a facial EMG study, we tested whether the positive role of visual ambiguity in paintings is reflected in a continuous affective evaluation on a subtle level. We presented ambiguous (disfluent) and non-ambiguous (fluent) versions of Magritte paintings and found that M. Zygomaticus major activation was higher and M. corrugator supercilii activation was lower for ambiguous than for non-ambiguous versions. Our findings reflect a positive continuous affective evaluation to visual ambiguity in paintings over the 5 s presentation time. We claim that this finding is indirect evidence for the hypothesis that visual stimuli classified as art, evoke a safe state for indulging into experiencing ambiguity, challenging the notion that processing fluency is generally related to positive affect.
Date of publication:16.5.2017
Journal title:Frontiers in Psychology
Peer reviewed:true
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00785
Publication Type:Article