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EVA Lab - Empirical Visual Aesthetics

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The Research Focus Empirical Visual Aesthetics (EVAlab), was founded in 2004 by Helmut Leder and is recognized as the earliest department with a specific research focus on Visual Empirical Aesthetics. Only recently similar initiatives have emerged elsewhere (MPI Frankfurt, Goldsmith, NYU). Over twelve years, the Research Focus established a unique research team and network in the field of visual aesthetics, and now holds a role of international leadership in psychological empirical art research with numerous important publications pioneering empirical approaches (physiology of art emotion, fluency and art, face beauty, museum studies, art and health, eye-tracking) and theoretical modeling of aesthetic experience. No other group has in fact established more theoretical contributions on the state-of-the-art in psychological aesthetics with leading models for viewing art (Leder et al., 2004; Leder & Nadal, 2014), as well as more neuroscientifically grounded models, published in prestigious journals. The EVAlab has also been host to a number of researchers in empirical aesthetics, serving as a central hub for research in this emerging area.

The Research Focus also has a central role in the research platform Cognitive Sciences. Aesthetics is one of four main areas in the new doctoral school CoBeNe at the University of Vienna (key topics: perception, emotion, art and aesthetics). The Research Focus hosts yearly international Vienna Aesthetics Symposia, and, in 2016, hosted the biannual conference of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA), the leading meeting for researchers in empirical aesthetics in Vienna, accompanied by the WWTF-sponsored summer school CSSS 2016 and by another conference, Art&Sciences, by the university’s department of Art History. The Research Focus also co-hosted the European Conference on Eye-Movements, ECEM 2015, and the TeaP 2013.


5 Selected Main Publications

(1) Pelowski, M., Forster, M., Gerger, G. & Leder, H, (invited subm.). Move me, astonish me… delight my eyes and brain. Physics of Life Reviews.

(2) Pearce, M. T., Zaidel, D.W., Vartanian, O., Skov, M., Leder, H., Chatterjee, A. & Nadal. M. (2016). Neuroaesthetics: The Cognitive Neuroscience of Aesthetic Experience. Persp. Psycholog. Sci. 11(2), 265-279.

(3) Leder, H., & Nadal, M. (2014). Ten years of a model of aesthetic appreciation and aesthetic judgments: The aesthetic episode – Developments and challenges in empirical aesthetics. Brit. Journ. Psych. 443-464.

(4) Vartanian, O., Navarrete, G., Chatterjee, A., Leder, H. & Skov, M. (2013). Impact of contour on aesthetic judgments and approach-avoidance decisions in architecture. Proc.Nat. Acad. Sciences, 110, 10446-10453.

(5) Forster, M., Leder, H. & Ansorge, U. (2013). It felt fluent, and I liked it: Subjective feeling of fluency rather than objective fluency determines liking. Emotion 13(2), 280-289.


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Helmut Leder
Universität Wien
Fakultät für Psychologie
Institut für Psychologische Grundlagenforschung und Forschungsmethoden

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