Everything's Relative? Relative Differences in Processing Fluency and the Effects on Liking

Author(s)
Michael Forster, Gernot Gerger, Helmut Leder
Abstract

Explanations of aesthetic pleasure based on processing fluency have shown that ease-of-processing fosters liking. What is less clear, however, is how processing fluency arises. Does it arise from a relative comparison among the stimuli presented in the experiment? Or does it arise from a comparison to an internal reference or standard? To address these questions, we conducted two experiments in which two ease-of-processing manipulations were applied: either (1) within-participants, where relative comparisons among stimuli varying in processing ease were possible, or (2) between-participants, where no relative comparisons were possible. In total, 97 participants viewed simple line drawings with high or low visual clarity, presented at four different presentation durations, and rated for felt fluency, liking, and certainty. Our results show that the manipulation of visual clarity led to differences in felt fluency and certainty regardless of being manipulated within-or between-participants. However, liking ratings were only affected when ease-of-processing was manipulated within-participants. Thus, feelings of fluency do not depend on the nature of the reference. On the other hand, participants liked fluent stimuli more only when there were other stimuli varying in ease-of-processing. Thus, relative differences in fluency seem to be crucial for liking judgments.

Organisation(s)
Department of Cognition, Emotion, and Methods in Psychology
Journal
PLoS ONE
Volume
10
No. of pages
14
ISSN
1932-6203
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0135944
Publication date
08-2015
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
501001 General psychology, 501006 Experimental psychology, 501011 Cognitive psychology, 501021 Social psychology
Keywords
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/everythings-relative-relative-differences-in-processing-fluency-and-the-effects-on-liking(501d463b-b85d-4af4-a8d8-c62c81146cf3).html