Art Schema Effects on Affective Experience: The Case of Disgusting Images

Valentin Wagner, Winfried Menninghaus, Julian Hanich, Thomas Jacobsen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    46 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Can we experience depictions of repulsive objects more positively when we watch them as part of a work
    of art? We addressed this question by using a scenario approach in a laboratory setting designed to
    activate two different cognitive schemata: participants viewed the same pictures framed either as art
    photographs or as documentary photographs for educational purposes. Self-reports of the positivity, the
    negativity, and the intensity of the affective responses yielded three results. First, participants experienced
    the photos more positively in the art-framing condition. Second, the negativity ratings did not
    differ in both conditions, suggesting that art framing does not erase, diminish, or convert the negative
    affect vis-a`-vis the disgusting stimulus features. Third, there was no difference in terms of the intensity
    of the experience—a result that contradicts the position that aesthetic emotions are less intense than
    ordinary emotions. The results of our study suggest that cognitive schema activation should be included
    in a multifactor psychological account of the aesthetic enjoyment of artworks that involve negative
    emotions. More specifically, results add to the growing insight into what distinguishes aesthetically
    modified emotions from ordinary emotions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)120-129
    Number of pages10
    JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
    Volume8
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - May-2014

    Keywords

    • aesthetics, art, affect, disgust, cognitive schema

    Cite this