How Responsive Are You to Art?

Art is an essential part of human existence, and it is well-known that people react differently to works of art. Some are deeply touched, while others are not moved at all. But how do you measure these individual differences and understand why some people react more intensely to art than others? Ed Vessels and his colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics have developed an interesting and versatile tool, the Aesthetic Responsiveness Assessment (AReA), to get to the bottom of these questions.

The AReA is a screening tool designed to examine individuals’ aesthetic responsiveness to music, visual art, and poetry. It is based on a set of questions from which three main factors were derived: Aesthetic Appreciation, Intensive Aesthetic Experience, and Creative Behavior. These categories allow researchers to better identify which individuals are particularly receptive to aesthetic stimuli and which are eligible to participate in studies conducted by the Institute.

The area has the potential to revolutionize our approach to the study of aesthetic sensations. As such, it can help provide new insights into why and how people enjoy art and what drives them to become creative themselves. It is an exciting step towards a broader and deeper exploration of art and its relevance to the human experience.

Aesthetic Responsiveness describes the extent to which people respond to various aesthetic stimuli such as art and nature.

Edward A. Vessel of MPIEA, developer of the Aesthetic Responsiveness Assessment (AReA) procedure.

For all art lovers who are now curious to discover their own responsiveness to aesthetic stimuli, the website “YourBrainOnArt” offers a great opportunity to try out the AReA questions for yourself. The so-called Aesthetic Mindset Index Test is based on the questions of the AReA. In cooperation with Ed Vessel, the questions have been adapted and expanded to explore participants’ aesthetic awareness and the ways in which aesthetics and art currently influence them.

Try it out and learn more about your own aesthetic responsiveness!

Further reading

Original Publication

Schlotz, W., Wallot, S., Omigie, D., Masucci, M. D., Hoelzmann, S. C., & Vessel, E. A. (2020). The Aesthetic Responsiveness Assessment (AReA): A screening tool to assess individual differences in responsiveness to art in English and German. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. Advance online publication.

Aesence is an independent art and design publication dedicated to minimalist aesthetics. Founded out of a deep appreciation and fascination, Aesence aims to promote awareness and appreciation of minimalism in art and design.