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Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts

The Official Journal of Division 10 of the American Psychological Association.

aca-150 Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts is devoted to promoting scholarship on the psychology of the production and appreciation of the arts and all aspects of creative endeavor. To that end, we publish manuscripts presenting original empirical research and papers that synthesize and evaluate extant research that relate to the psychology of aesthetics, creativity, and the arts. Generally, qualitative work, case studies, essays, interviews, biographical profiles, and literature reviews are discouraged.

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Co-Editors

Roni Reiter-Palmon
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Pablo Tinio
Queens College, City University of New York

Founding Editors

James C. Kaufman
University of Connecticut

Jeffrey K. Smith
University of Otago, New Zealand

Lisa F. Smith
University of Otago, New Zealand



Current Issue: Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts - Vol 10, Iss 4

Introduction by the editors.

Introduces the final 2016 publication of Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts. This issue provides a variety of excellent articles on aesthetics, creativity, and the arts. Topics covered include the use of network science methodology to examine how fluid intelligence and creative achievement are related to the structure of the mental lexicon, whether divergent thinking and creative achievement are differentially related to attentional flexibility and hypomania, whether digital and analog films are perceived differently, and the effects of disgust on aesthetic and moral judgments. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-11-07
Creator: Reiter-Palmon, Roni; Tinio, Pablo P. L.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000105


Structure and flexibility: Investigating the relation between the structure of the mental lexicon, fluid intelligence, and creative achievement.

Creativity is mainly viewed by current theories as either a bottom-up or top-down cognitive process. However, a growing body of research indicates that both processes contribute to creative ability. Furthermore, in both accounts the structure of the mental lexicon plays a key component, either as directly related to creative ability (bottom-up) or as the basis upon which top-down processes operate (top-down). Thus, the examination of the mental lexicon structure as related to both types of processes can shed further light on the nature of creative ability. In this study, we use network science methodology to examine how fluid intelligence and creative achievement are related to the structure of the mental lexicon. A large sample of participants completed a semantic verbal fluency task and was divided into 4 groups, based on their performance on intelligence and creative achievement measures. A network science methodology was then used to extract and compare the lexical network structure of the semantic category between the 4 groups. The results of this analysis revealed that while fluid intelligence was more related to structural properties of the lexical network, creative achievement was more related to flexible properties of the lexical network. Furthermore, we found that the lexical network of the high-fluid-intelligence and high-creative-achievement group exhibited a combination of both effects. These findings provide insight into structural and functional properties of semantic networks, and they demonstrate the utility of network science in examining high-level cognitive phenomena, such as creativity and intelligence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-03-24
Creator: Kenett, Yoed N.; Beaty, Roger E.; Silvia, Paul J.; Anaki, David; Faust, Miriam
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000056


Working memory capacity, mind wandering, and creative cognition: An individual-differences investigation into the benefits of controlled versus spontaneous thought.

Should executive control, as indicated by working memory capacity (WMC) and mind-wandering propensity, help or hinder creativity? Sustained and focused attention should help guide a selective search of solution-relevant information in memory and help inhibit uncreative, yet accessible, ideas. However, unfocused attention and daydreaming should allow mental access to more loosely relevant concepts, remotely linked to commonplace solutions. Three individual-differences studies inserted incubation periods into 1 or 2 divergent thinking tasks and tested whether WMC (assessed by complex span tasks) and incubation-period mind wandering (assessed as probed reports of task-unrelated thought [TUT]) predicted postincubation performance. Retrospective self-reports of Openness (Experiment 2) and mind-wandering and daydreaming propensity (Experiment 3) complemented our thought-probe assessments of TUT. WMC did not correlate with creativity in divergent thinking, whereas only the questionnaire measure of daydreaming, but not probed thought reports, weakly predicted creativity; the fact that in-the-moment TUTs did not correlate with divergent creativity is especially problematic for claims that mind-wandering processes contribute to creative cognition. Moreover, the fact that WMC tends to strongly predict analytical problem solving and reasoning, but may not correlate with divergent thinking, provides a useful boundary condition for defining WMC’s nomological net. On balance, our data provide no support for either benefits or costs of executive control for at least 1 component of creativity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-02-15
Creator: Smeekens, Bridget A.; Kane, Michael J.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000046


Dissociating divergent thinking and creative achievement by examining attentional flexibility and hypomania.

Creativity is predominantly measured in scientific research with divergent thinking tasks that assess the potential for creative ideation. The current study aimed to further foster a distinction between divergent thinking and a second measure of creativity, creative achievement (the production of tangible or visible pieces), by examining whether these 2 measures are differentially related to attentional flexibility and hypomania. Evidence was found linking divergent thinking to better attentional flexibility and creative achievement to poorer attentional flexibility in a novel variant of the Stroop task. Additionally, creative achievement, especially nonscience-related (e.g., artistic) achievement, was positively associated with risk for hypomania whereas divergent thinking was not related to hypomania. The findings support a distinction between measures of creativity (divergent thinking ability vs. creative achievement), which may have clinical implications (e.g., for bipolar disorder) and theoretical implications for the study of attentional flexibility and rigidity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-08-08
Creator: Siegel, Jennifer; Bugg, Julie M.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000071


Functional fixedness in creative thinking tasks depends on stimulus modality.

Pictorial examples during creative thinking tasks can lead participants to fixate on these examples and reproduce their elements even when yielding suboptimal creative products. Semantic memory research may illuminate the cognitive processes underlying this effect. Here, we examined whether pictures and words differentially influence access to semantic knowledge for object concepts depending on whether the task is close- or open-ended. Participants viewed either names or pictures of everyday objects, or a combination of the 2, and generated common, secondary, or ad hoc uses for them. Stimulus modality effects were assessed quantitatively through reaction times and qualitatively through a novel coding system that classifies creative output on a continuum from top-down-driven to bottom-up-driven responses. Both analyses revealed differences across tasks. Importantly, for ad hoc uses, participants exposed to pictures generated more top-down-driven responses than did those exposed to object names. These findings have implications for accounts of functional fixedness in creative thinking, as well as theories of semantic memory for object concepts. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-02-11
Creator: Chrysikou, Evangelia G.; Motyka, Katharine; Nigro, Cristina; Yang, Song-I; Thompson-Schill, Sharon L.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000050


Disentangling creative mindsets from creative self-efficacy and creative identity: Do people hold fixed and growth theories of creativity?

How people perceive their creativity is a growing area of research, but less is known about how people perceive the distinction between inborn (fixed) versus learnable (growth) aspects of their creative competence. This study measured fixed and growth creative mindsets, and its relationship to creative self-efficacy and creative identity in a sample of 620 undergraduate students. The data were split into 2 equal-sized samples to perform exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis. Exploratory factor analysis results showed that items adapted from Dweck’s previous studies with the word creativity replacing intelligence did not perform as well as Karwowski’s creative mindset items. Confirmatory factor analysis results suggest that the best measurement model for mindsets is one that also includes self-efficacy, but not necessarily creative identity. Fixed mindsets correlated much less with the other factors, and all of the small correlations were in the negative direction, which could be expected given that those with a fixed mindset employ more helpless strategies. Fixed and growth creative mindsets were moderately negatively correlated, suggesting that while the 2 mindsets are related, it is important for future researchers to measure levels of both dimensions. This study also suggests that fixed and growth mindsets are better measured using descriptions that pertain specifically to the creative process. Implications and theoretical considerations are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-11-07
Creator: Hass, Richard W.; Katz-Buonincontro, Jen; Reiter-Palmon, Roni
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000081


Drawing development in mainstream and Waldorf Steiner schools revisited.

Although different approaches to teaching children to draw have been advocated and practiced, little is known about how these may influence children’s developing drawing abilities. In this study the drawings of pupils receiving an art education that attempts to concurrently teach representational and expressive skills (Mainstream schools in England) are compared to those of pupils who experience an alternative art education that emphasizes imaginative, creative, and expressive drawings before introducing representational drawing skills (Waldorf Steiner schools). One hundred and sixty 7- to 16-year-old pupils from the 2 school types completed 3 expressive (happy, sad, and angry) drawings, 2 representational drawings (an observational drawing of a mannequin and a drawing of a house from memory), and 1 free drawing. Two artists rated all of the drawings for quality on 7-point scales, and stylistic features (scene-based, size, and color) of the free drawings were assessed. No consistent between-school differences were found in the expressive drawings, but Waldorf pupils produced superior representational drawings. With respect to stylistic differences Waldorf pupils produced larger and more scene-based free drawings. Waldorf pupils also combined colors more frequently, and the 7 and 10 year olds tended to use more colors than their Mainstream school counterparts. These results appear inconsistent with the difference in emphasis on expression and representation in the 2 school types. However, observational research investigating actual classroom practices within the 2 school types is required because maybe practices differ to what is outlined in the curricula. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-11-07
Creator: Rose, Sarah E.; Jolley, Richard P.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000070


As film goes byte: The change from analog to digital film perception.

The digital revolution changed film production in many ways. Until the end of the 20th century, most film professionals and critics preferred celluloid film. However, no previous empirical study compared complete narrative films recorded with analog and digital cinematography. Three short narrative films were produced with an analog and a digital camera attached to a 3D rig in order to control all optical parameters. In postproduction, a third version of a digital film was created to mimic the analog film aesthetics. In a cinema experiment with 356 participants, we tested whether the three film versions are perceived differently. The two capturing technologies produced similar emotional and immersive experiences during digital projection. The study revealed significant differences in the memory of visual details, with higher recall scores for the digitally captured versions. By contrast, preference ratings of very short scenes and the comparison of projection types revealed different results. The mechanical projection of celluloid film produced higher levels of emotional reactions. The results might be of interest to film professionals and audience in general. This study shows that the gap between analog and digital aesthetics has been closed with today’s advanced digital technology. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-11-07
Creator: Loertscher, Miriam L.; Weibel, David; Spiegel, Simon; Flueckiger, Barbara; Mennel, Pierre; Mast, Fred W.; Iseli, Christian
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000082


Meaning through fiction: Science fiction and innovative technologies.

Connecting philosophical and psychological theories on meaning to theories and findings on the real-world influence of fictional stories, the authors argue that science fiction provides meaning for otherwise disconcerting new technologies. An experiment with two points of measurement was conducted. After watching a full-length movie with a humanoid robot in a main role (vs. a control film condition), participants had a clearer understanding of humanoids. This, in turn, was related to a stronger link between the concept of humanoid robots and the self, which predicted a higher willingness to buy or use humanoid robot technology. The results remained stable after a 2-week postexposure delay. Implications regarding the meaning-generating function of fiction, science fiction, and humanoid robots are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-02-15
Creator: Appel, Markus; Krause, Stefan; Gleich, Uli; Mara, Martina
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000052


Implementing STEAM in maker-centered learning.

For the past decade, the maker movement—an interest in working with one’s hands in interdisciplinary environments that incorporate various tools and technologies—has been on the rise. In recent years, educators, administrators, parents, and policymakers have expressed a heightened interest in maker-centered learning, the incorporation of the practices of the maker movement into education. Although many have argued that maker-centered learning experiences have the capacity to increase students’ proficiency and interest in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) subjects, others have suggested that maker-centered learning experiences are fertile grounds for STEAM, that is, incorporating the arts into STEM education. In this article, educational researchers Edward P. Clapp and Raquel L. Jimenez review a sample of maker projects from 3 data sources to explore the role of STEM disciplines and the arts in maker-centered learning experiences. They propose that the A in the STEAM acronym may stand for 3 different educational outcomes: arts learning, aesthetic education, and/or creativity, but ultimately conclude that the A in the STEAM acronym—however it is defined—is only loosely incorporated into maker-centered learning experiences. These findings suggest (a) that educators, administrators, and curriculum developers must be intentional about integrating the arts into maker-centered learning experiences in ways that are explicit, and (b) that the loose incorporation of the arts in maker-centered learning experiences may be symptomatic of an overall trend in STEAM learning that centralizes advocacy discourses aimed at driving policy over teaching and learning discourses aimed at supporting practice. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-08-25
Creator: Clapp, Edward P.; Jimenez, Raquel L.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000066


Truths about beauty and goodness: Disgust affects moral but not aesthetic judgments.

Aesthetic judgments typically involve assessments of one’s own responses and thus are partly or largely subjective. Moral judgments may seem otherwise, but their susceptibility to influence by factors extrinsic to the object of judgment—notably, by irrelevant sensations of disgust—has led some to argue that moral and aesthetic judgments are functionally alike, a view consistent with philosophical arguments and neuropsychological evidence. We examined the behavioral consequences of this view by adapting Eskine, Kacinik, and Prinz’s (2011) procedure for studying the effect of disgust on moral judgments. In Study 1, participants drank bitter, sweet, or neutral liquids and rated liking and quality of abstract paintings. To rule out a possible asymmetry in the effect of disgust on negative rather than positive stimuli, we had participants in Study 2 drink bitter or neutral drinks and rate the ugliness and badness of aesthetic violations—Komar and Melamid’s abstract paintings using undesirable art elements. Participants also rated the moral wrongness of harm and purity violations, allowing for direct comparison of moral and aesthetic judgments. To rule out concerns that participants failed to engage with abstract artworks, Study 3 used representational paintings with disturbing subject matter. Across all studies, disgust had no effect on aesthetic judgments but reliably increased the severity of moral judgments. Thus we replicate Eskine et al. (2011) while uncovering an important functional distinction between aesthetic and moral judgments, a difference that may reflect a “disinterestedness” in aesthetic evaluations not seen in moral evaluations because of the latter’s comparatively practical and action-guiding consequences. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-02-11
Creator: Rabb, Nathaniel; Nissel, Jenny; Alecci, Alexandra; Magid, Leah; Ambrosoli, James; Winner, Ellen
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000051