, Volume 26, Issue 4, pp 355-358
Date: 22 Nov 2013

Skin conductance and aesthetic evaluative responses to nonrepresentational works of art varying in symmetry


Skin conductance was recorded as 11 subjects judged the aesthetic potential of abstract works of art and their single- and double-axis symmetrical transformations. It was found that the more structurally complex asymmetrical originals elicited higher levels of arousal than the less complex single-axis symmetrical transformations, which elicited greater arousal than the double- axis transformations. Subjects’ ratings of the hedonic value of the compositions were directly related to the arousal increment gained from viewing the stimuli. The results are discussed in terms of Berlyne’s (1960) theory of aesthetic behavior regarding the relationship among complexity, arousal, and hedonic value.

This study was completed by the first author in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the master’s degree at Montclair State College. The authors would like to thank Calvin Nodine for his helpful comments.