Faculty of Economics and Business Administration Publications Database

Aesthetic Pleasure versus Aesthetic Interest: The Two Routes to Aesthetic Liking

Volume: 8
Number: 15
ISSN-Print: 1664-1078
Link External Source: Online Version
Year: 2017
Keywords: Aesthetic liking; Attractiveness; Pleasure; Interest; Processing fluency; Processing style

Although existing research has established that aesthetic pleasure and aesthetic interest are two distinct positive aesthetic responses, empirical research on aesthetic preferences usually considers only aesthetic liking to capture participants’ aesthetic response. This causes some fundamental contradictions in the literature; some studies find a positive relationship between easy-to-process stimulus characteristics and aesthetic liking, while others suggest a negative relationship. The present research addresses these empirical contradictions by investigating the dual character of aesthetic liking as manifested in both the pleasure and interest components. Based on the Pleasure-Interest Model of Aesthetic Liking (PIA Model; Graf and Landwehr, 2015), two studies investigated the formation of pleasure and interest and their relationship with aesthetic liking responses. Using abstract art as the stimuli, Study 1 employed a 3 (stimulus fluency: low, medium, high) × 2 (processing style: automatic, controlled) × 2 (aesthetic response: pleasure, interest) experimental design to examine the processing dynamics responsible for experiencing aesthetic pleasure versus aesthetic interest. We find that the effect of stimulus fluency on pleasure is mediated by a gut-level fluency experience. Stimulus fluency and interest, by contrast, are related through a process of disfluency reduction, such that disfluent stimuli that grow more fluent due to processing efforts become interesting. The second study employed product designs (bikes, chairs, and lamps) as stimuli and a 2 (fluency: low, high) × 2 (processing style: automatic, controlled) × 3 (product type: bike, chair, lamp) experimental design to examine pleasure and interest as mediators of the relationship between stimulus fluency and design attractiveness. With respect to lamps and chairs, the results suggest that the effect of stimulus fluency on attractiveness is fully mediated by aesthetic pleasure, especially in the automatic processing style. Conversely, disfluent product designs can enhance design attractiveness judgments due to interest when a controlled processing style is adopted.