Self-regulatory mechanisms in the evaluation of arts : the influence of regulatory focus and psychological distance on attitudes

  • The present project examines how self-regulatory mechanisms, namely regulatory foci (Higgins, 1997), affect attitudes towards conventional versus unconventional art. Conventional artworks (e.g., Mona Lisa by da Vinci) correspond to a traditional concept of art and are characterized by great artistic mastery. Unconventional artworks (e.g., Fountain by Duchamp), instead, are associated with a widening of the traditional concept of art, which makes it sometimes difficult to regard them as such. Based on findings from empirical aesthetics (Leder et al., 2004) and regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997) it is assumed that a prevention focus leads to more favorable attitudes towards conventional artworks compared to a promotion focus, whereas for unconventional artworks the reverse should be true. Given that a prevention focus bolsters a concrete processing mode and a promotion focus reinforces an abstract processing mode (Förster & Higgins, 2005), it is assumed that the influence of regulatory focus on aesthetic appreciation is due to a difference in processing modes. Consistent with our hypothesis we found the suggested interaction pattern for typicality (Study 1), behavioral (Study 2), and liking ratings (Study 3) and for objects other than art (Study 4). It was further demonstrated (Studies 3 and 4) that the influence of regulatory focus on affective as well as on behavioral measures is mediated by typicality estimates, thereby showing that regulatory foci affect aesthetic appreciation by their impact on categorical processing (Martindale, 1988). In Study 5 it was demonstrated that another manipulation for processing modes, namely psychological distance (Liberman & Trope, 1998), leads to the same results as varying regulatory focus, which supports the hypothesis that processing modes might have mediated the effects. The results are discussed in the context of empirical aesthetics and regulatory focus literature and future lines of research are elaborated.

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Publishing Institution:IRC-Library, Information Resource Center der Jacobs University Bremen
Granting Institution:Internat. Univ.
Author:Katrin Schimmel
Referee:Jens Förster, Ulrich Kühnen, Lioba Werth
Advisor:Jens Förster
Persistent Identifier (URN):urn:nbn:de:101:1-201305225915
Document Type:PhD Thesis
Date of Successful Oral Defense:2006/05/12
Year of First Publication:2006
PhD Degree:Psychology
School:SHSS School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Library of Congress Classification:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion / BF Psychology / BF501-505 Motivation
Call No:Thesis 2006/08

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