Measuring aesthetic pleasure
Each of the variables researched in conjunction with Project UMA will be measured using (1) multiple-item-scales that can be applied across different sensory domains, and (2) psychophysiological measures, such as facial EMG patterns and neural correlates (fMRI or EEG patterns).
CREATING A RELIABLE AND VALID SCALE TO MEASURE AESTHETIC PLEASURE FOR PRODUCT DESIGNS
There is a lack of consistency regarding the scales used to measure aesthetic pleasure. Previous studies have often used scales derived from other fields of research (e.g., art, human-computer interaction); however, these scales have never been reliably tested with product designs. In addition, such scales often do not measure aesthetic pleasure in isolated form, but include design principles known to influence aesthetic pleasure (e.g., typicality, symmetry). Therefore, we intend to develop a scale that can be used in future studies within the domain of product design aesthetics. Furthermore, the scale will be applicable for a range of product categories across different countries, cultures, and age groups. The final scale will also measure the related design principles of unity, variety, typicality, and novelty, to provide a comprehensive account of the variables known to influence aesthetic pleasure. In an initial research phase, we identified highly reliable items representative of aesthetic pleasure and its related design principles. In the test phase that is currently underway, we are confirming the previous findings across product categories and different countries (Australia, the Netherlands, Taiwan and Austria). The final scale can be used as a guide to help product designers create designs that people find aesthetically appealing.
Blijlevens, J., Thurgood, C., Hekkert, P., Leder, H., & Whitfield, A. W. (2014, August). The development of a reliable and valid scale to measure aesthetic pleasure in design. In A. Kozbelt, P. P. L. Tinio & P. J. Locher, Proceedings of the 23rd Biennial Congress of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA). New York, USA.
ELECTROPHYSIOLOGICAL MEASURES OF AESTHETIC PROCESSING
There has been much in the literature about investigating aesthetics based on introspection and self-reporting, that is: asking subjects for their opinions about designed objects. There is some validity to this research method; without it, there would be no research data at all. A novel approach to investigating aesthetics is becoming of great interest to design researchers, scientists and neuroscientists alike: applying scientific and physiological research methods to design research. This is commonly known as Neuroaesthetics or Aesthetic Science.
The investigation into physiological responses to aesthetic preference is part of Swinburne University of Technology’s contribution to Project UMA. One area of focus will be possible correlations between physiological responses and visual preference. The physiological responses include electroencephalography, heart rate, skin conductivity, and eye tracking.
Thai, C., White, C., & Whitfield, A. W. (2014, August). Neuroaesthetics of the Mundane. In A. Kozbelt, P. P. L. Tinio & P. J. Locher, Proceedings of the 23rd Biennial Congress of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics (IAEA). New York, USA.