The empirical determination of an aesthetic formula

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Eysenck, H.J.: The empirical determination of an aesthetic formula. Psychological Review 48, 83–92 (1941)



Recent experimental tests of the theory that aesthetic objects derive their pleasurable quality from their numerical or geometrical characteristics have been directed to Birkhoff's "aesthetic measure," i.e. that the pleasure derived equals the ratio between the order and the complexity in the object. Tests of the predictive value of the formula yield correlation coefficients from .70 to .05. Harsh and Beebe-Center, applying the factor analysis method of Thurstone, found 4 main factors. The author, however, had 70 polygons judged by 26 observers, and found that 2 factors would account for all the correlations within the limits of the standard error: a general, positive factor, which correlated significantly with the T factor, formerly reported by the author, and a bi-polar factor, distinguishing between those who preferred the simple from those preferring the complex figures. A formula was developed which could account for all the non-chance factors operating in the judgments of the observers in three different groups of polygons. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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