Aesthetic Preferences: An Evolutionary Approach

  • Mariagrazia Portera
  • Lorenzo BartalesiEmail author


Human aesthetic preferences towards a certain landscape type, a certain bodily traits of the opposite sex, a figurative style rather than another, are embedded in what we call “aesthetic experience”, a complex network of instinctive reactions, emotions, feelings, thoughts and judgments. Are these preferences universal and species-specific, that is to say are they the same for every member of a particular species? Evolutionary aesthetologists advocate the universality and species-specificity of the aesthetic preferences: they claim that, over the generations, a particular set of preferences, more advantageous in terms of fitness and survival, has been selected. Every man loves and prefers a certain type of environment (savannah hypothesis), certain bodily traits and so on. Going back to Darwin’s writings, in particular to his Notebooks, Portera and Bartalesi ask if alternative explanations are possible: can aesthetic preferences be also understood as the consequences of social learning, as the results of the transmission of cultural knowledge over the generations?


Charles Darwin Evolutionary psychology Savannah hypothesis Sexual preferences Instinct 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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