Effects of liking on visual attention in faces and paintings

Author(s)
Jürgen Goller, Aleksandra Mitrovic, Helmut Leder
Abstract

Highlights
•We found a linear link between liking and visual attention.
•This link is domain general as it is equally strong for paintings and human faces.
•This link follows an inverted u-shaped function over time.

Abstract
The visual aesthetics of an object increases visual attention towards the object. It is argued that this relation between liking and attention is an evolutionary adaptation in sexual and natural selection. If this is the case, we would expect this relation to be domain specific, and thus, stronger for biological than for non-biological objects. To test this hypothesis, we conducted two eye-tracking studies, in which we compared the relation between liking and gaze patterns in images of biological (faces) and non-biological (paintings) stimuli. In Study 1, we presented randomly combined image pairs for 20 s in a free-viewing paradigm. Participants then selected the image they liked more in a 2-AFC task and rated the liking of each image on a Likert-scale. In Study 2, we employed the same paradigm but this time, images were combined based on pre-rated liking to ensure that images in each pair were clearly different. In both studies, we found a strong relation between liking and visual attention. Against our expectations, these effects were of similar magnitude for faces as for paintings. We conclude that the relation between liking and visual attention is not limited to biological objects but that its effects are domain general. The evolutionary function of the relation between liking and visual attention might stem from evolutionary adaptations, nonetheless, this link seems to be a rather basic phenomenon that applies across domains.

Organisation(s)
Department of Clinical and Health Psychology, Department of Cognition, Emotion, and Methods in Psychology
Journal
Acta Psychologica
Volume
197
Pages
115-123
ISSN
0001-6918
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2019.05.008
Publication date
06-2019
Peer reviewed
Yes
Austrian Fields of Science 2012
501001 General psychology, 501011 Cognitive psychology
Keywords
Portal url
https://ucris.univie.ac.at/portal/en/publications/effects-of-liking-on-visual-attention-in-faces-and-paintings(fed60674-efd5-4e33-bb1e-1e909f294a3c).html