Exploring Responses to Art in Adolescence: A Behavioral and Eye-Tracking Study

Savazzi, Federica; Massaro, Davide; Di Dio, Cinzia; Gallese, Vittorio; Gilli, Gabriella; Marchetti, Antonella

Adolescence is a peculiar age mainly characterized by physical and psychological changes that may affect the perception of one's own and others' body. This perceptual peculiarity may influence the way in which bottom-up and top-down processes interact and, consequently, the perception and evaluation of art. This study is aimed at investigating, by means of the eye-tracking technique, the visual explorative behavior of adolescents while looking at paintings. Sixteen color paintings, categorized as dynamic and static, were presented to twenty adolescents; half of the images represented natural environments and half human individuals; all stimuli were displayed under aesthetic and movement judgment tasks. Participants' ratings revealed that, generally, nature images are explicitly evaluated as more appealing than human images. Eye movement data, on the other hand, showed that the human body exerts a strong power in orienting and attracting visual attention and that, in adolescence, it plays a fundamental role during aesthetic experience. In particular, adolescents seem to approach human-content images by giving priority to elements calling forth movement and action, supporting the embodiment theory of aesthetic perception.


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Art History and Archaeology
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October 13, 2016