10 August 2007

Art and Personality

Recently published research in The Psychologist looked at differences in preference for art and how that related to personality. It found that men preferred cubist art and renaissance art while older people preferred impressionism and Japanese art. The article online is only viewable by those of us with university accounts, but is has been summarized by the Research Design Connections blog who quotes it saying:

People who prefer representational art [such as impressionist paintings] were significantly more agreeable and conscientious, and less open to new experiences, than those who [preferred] the more abstract works [such as cubist art].

The research raises some interesting questions about whether there are some ages after which it is too late to teach art. It also reinforces questions about how response to art is learned versus innate. Is there even such a thing as intrinsic beauty?

This research connects with the BBC's online survey (n=100000+) that asks visitors to rate artwork and answer a battery of psychological profile questions. The BBC survey takes about 15 minutes and is pretty interesting. If nothing else, you get to look at paintings and talk about yourself. They found that:

  • People with low emotional stability tend to prefer abstract and pop-art paintings.
  • People who score high in agreeableness like paintings and tend to dislike forms like pop-art.
So, apparently, I took the above photo of Georges-Pierre Seurat's Evening, Honfleur at MoMA because I am not "older", my desk is messy, I like rainy days, and didn't want to wait in line to see the Pollacks.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Adrian Furnham, and Stian Reimers. 2007. "The ARTistic personality," The Psychologist, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 84-87.

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