Aesthetic perception may broadly be defined as the detection of and response to that which is considered art and it may be assessed in terms of beauty in elements of the world around us. What is considered beautiful is typically unique to the individual; appreciation of art is not exclusively dependent on the perception of relationships adherent in the formal elements of its production. For instance, two individuals may evaluate the same object differently in terms of beauty, and one individual may evaluate a single object differently at different times (Hutcheson, 1725). Two separate studies were conducted for this research. One hundred thirty-three psychology undergraduates were recruited to participate in the first study. From the data obtained from the first study, eight paintings were selected for further analysis. For the second study, 108 psychology undergraduates were recruited to participate. It was hypothesized that increasing amounts of contextual information would enhance the aesthetic experience of individuals when observing works of art. It was also expected that the increasing amount of information would have a similar impact on individuals’ ratings of quality of artwork. In addition, individuals’ artistic knowledge was expected to influence their overall detection of beauty and quality in works of art. Statistical analysis revealed no significant effect for contextual information, but sequential exposure to works of art was evidenced to impact preparedness for the aesthetic experience, regardless of artistic knowledge. Future research should include greater levels of contextual information and explore priming potential for aesthetic perception.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 12-10-2015


Adam L. Lawson

Mentor Professional Affiliation


Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level




IRB Approval Number (if applicable)

IRB00002836, DHHS FWA00003332

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