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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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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 11, Iss 2

Introduction by the editors.

This editorial introduces the nine articles in the second issue of 2017. Together these articles represent the breadth of submissions to Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts: visual and performing arts, music, creativity, art making, writing, and humor. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2017-05-25
Creator: Reiter-Palmon, Roni; Tinio, Pablo P. L.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000133

Dissecting an earworm: Melodic features and song popularity predict involuntary musical imagery.

Involuntary musical imagery (INMI or “earworms”)—the spontaneous recall and repeating of a tune in one’s mind—can be attributed to a wide range of triggers, including memory associations and recent musical exposure. The present study examined whether a song’s popularity and melodic features might also help to explain whether it becomes INMI, using a dataset of tunes that were named as INMI by 3,000 survey participants. It was found that songs that had achieved greater success and more recent runs in the U.K. music charts were reported more frequently as INMI. A set of 100 of these frequently named INMI tunes was then matched to 100 tunes never named as INMI by the survey participants, in terms of popularity and song style. These 2 groups of tunes were compared using 83 statistical summary and corpus-based melodic features and automated classification techniques. INMI tunes were found to have more common global melodic contours and less common average gradients between melodic turning points than non-INMI tunes, in relation to a large pop music corpus. INMI tunes also displayed faster average tempi than non-INMI tunes. Results are discussed in relation to literature on INMI, musical memory, and melodic “catchiness.” (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-11-03
Creator: Jakubowski, Kelly; Finkel, Sebastian; Stewart, Lauren; Müllensiefen, Daniel
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000090

The construction of meaning within free improvising groups: A qualitative psychological investigation.

Improvisation represents a unique process of social creativity in real time, practiced in widely varying musical contexts with different levels of experience. Yet psychologists have mostly studied the practices of individual jazz soloists with an expectation that shared understanding, knowledge, and technical abilities are a prerequisite for group improvising. A qualitative study interviewed 6 trios of free improvisers (n = 18) to illuminate the processes of shared musical improvisation across a range of contemporary artistic practice. Comparison of different members’ accounts of events during recorded free improvisations indicated that their understandings of who did what and why converged at some points, notably during relative stasis, and diverged at others. Improvisers anticipated and interpreted musical behaviors of their collaborators with reference to previous shared social or musical experience, but considered that such expectations could, and should, be confounded. Familiarity between improvisers could be seen as helpful in building trust within dynamic and highly uncertain musical contexts, and in allowing a less conscious approach to interaction. Improvisers individually assumed that their group shared certain tastes and asserted that others recognized certain musical material as connected to previous practice together. These ideas of shared tastes and practices could best be understood as constructions within this particular social context, because they were not necessarily consistent across the ensemble. The findings emphasize the fundamentally social nature of improvising: Shared understanding is not a prerequisite for participation, but shared experience over time enriches the resources of meaning an individual can bring to their interaction in an improvising group. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2017-03-06
Creator: Wilson, Graeme B.; MacDonald, Raymond A. R.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000075

“Music and juvenile justice: A dynamic systems perspective”: Correction to Wolf and Holochwost (2016).

Reports an error in "Music and juvenile justice: A dynamic systems perspective" by Dennie Palmer Wolf and Steven J. Holochwost (Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2016[May], Vol 10[2], 171-183). In the article, there are two misspelled names in the author note and an incorrect attribution for the writers of a song arranged by Stevie Wonder. In the author note, the authors wish to thank instead Margaret diZerega and Tina Maschi. In the first paragraph, of the Procedure section, the following phrase should appear: (e.g., Avis Burgeson Christiansen and Harry Dixon Loes’ “This Little Light of Mine”). The online version of this article has been corrected. (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2016-14257-001.) This study investigated whether participation in an ensemble-based music education program was associated with evidence of internal strengths, changes in perceptions of peers, or changes in behavior among incarcerated youth. Participants were 54 adolescents (63% male), held in 2 secure detention facilities, who elected to take part in a 2-week choral residency program. Rates of attendance at residency sessions, completion of the program for school credit, and engagement in musical activities outside of the residency session were high, while the results of a reflection exercise indicated that participants had more positive views of their self-esteem, engagement, and mood when they were engaged in musical activities then when they were not. A series of multilevel models revealed significant reductions in observed antisocial (B = −1.06 (.300), p < .001) and staff-reported externalizing behaviors (B = −9.59 (2.27), p < .001) for the program overall. However, additional modeling results indicated that reductions in antisocial behaviors were concentrated at one facility, B = −1.73 (.387), p < .001, and that at this at this facility participants’ perceptions of their peers were more positive following the program, B = 19.1 (6.26), p = .002. These findings are interpreted from a dynamic systems perspective, with an emphasis how the environmental context of each facility may have fostered or constrained the efficacy of the music program. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2017-05-25
Creator: No authorship indicated
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000122

Music education, academic achievement, and executive functions.

This study examined whether music education was associated with improved performance on measures of academic achievement and executive functions. Participants were 265 school-age children (Grades 1 through 8, 58% female, and 86% African American) who were selected by lottery to participate in an out-of-school program offering individual- and large-ensemble training on orchestral instruments. Measures of academic achievement (standardized test scores and grades in English language arts and math) were taken from participants’ academic records, whereas executive functions (EFs) were assessed through students’ performance on a computerized battery of common EF tasks. Results indicated that, relative to controls, students in the music education program scored higher on standardized tests, t(217) = 2.74, p = .007; earned better grades in English language arts, t(163) = 3.58, p < .001, and math, t(163) = 2.56, p = .011; and exhibited superior performance on select tasks of EFs and short-term memory. Further analyses revealed that although the largest differences in performance were observed between students in the control group and those who had received the music program for 2 to 3 years, conditional effects were also observed on 3 EF tasks for students who had been in the program for 1 year. These findings are discussed in light of current educational policy, with a particular emphasis on the implications for future research designed to understand the pathways connecting music education and EFs. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2017-05-25
Creator: Holochwost, Steven J.; Propper, Cathi B.; Wolf, Dennie Palmer; Willoughby, Michael T.; Fisher, Kelly R.; Kolacz, Jacek; Volpe, Vanessa V.; Jaffee, Sara R.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000112

“Like a rolling stone: A mixed-methods approach to linguistic analysis of Bob Dylan’s lyrics”: Correction to Czechowski et al. (2016).

Reports an error in "Like a rolling stone: A mixed-methods approach to linguistic analysis of Bob Dylan’s lyrics" by Konrad Czechowski, Dave Miranda and John Sylvestre (Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 2016[Feb], Vol 10[1], 99-113). In the article, Dylan’s album Modern Times (2006) has been mistakenly coded as a 2001 release. Results in the two last artistic periods of Dylan have thus been corrected (see corrected Tables 2, 3 and 4, as well as Figures 1 and 2). These corrections require nuances regarding some of the more detailed interpretations of year-related trends in the categorical perspective. In sum, overall, our main conclusions have not changed. The online version of this article has been corrected. (The following abstract of the original article appeared in record 2015-55837-001.) The work of American musician and songwriter Bob Dylan is an intriguing theme of research for the social psychology of music because his songs are widely believed to have reflected and influenced social movements. The objective of this mixed-methods study was to analyze the content of Dylan’s song lyrics from his 29 original studio albums (1962–2012), selecting only songs written by him (n = 241) in order to determine whether and how they evolved over the course of 50 years of his career. First, the text analysis software Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC2007; Pennebaker, Booth, & Francis, 2007) was used to perform a quantitative analysis of song lyrics. Second, a general inductive method was used to perform a qualitative analysis of Dylan’s work. Quantitative results showed that the most pronounced changes in Dylan’s lyrics throughout his career included an increase in words indicative of cognitive complexity, religious content, and collective focus, but also a decrease in words indicative of social referents. Qualitative analysis revealed that Dylan’s song lyrics gravitated around social themes that primarily consisted of hardships, romance, religion, family, politics and law, as well as oppression. Findings are discussed within Dylan’s musical work and biography, and provide theoretical and empirical directions for future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2017-05-25
Creator: No authorship indicated
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000134

The influence of pupil alignment on spectator address in Manet’s portraiture.

Participants judged 94 portraits painted by Édouard Manet (70), Gustave Courbet (12) and Henri Fantin-Latour (12) for horizontal and vertical pupil misalignment and gaze ambiguity (Experiment 1) and focal point of gaze (Experiment 2). Eye movements were also measured as participants considered the extent to which sitters in the same portraits acknowledged viewers (spectators; Experiment 3). The results showed Manet portraits to be frequently painted with misaligned pupils that are associated with gaze ambiguity, especially when misaligned on the vertical axis. This ambiguity of gaze was associated with the average focal point of gaze as being judged further up and to the left of the center for ambiguous relative to nonambiguous portraits. These decisions in relation to portraits displaying ambiguous gaze were associated with increased eye-movements to the eye region relative to those portraits not displaying ambiguity. Finally, ratings of acknowledgment taken in Experiment 3 correlated with those of gaze ambiguity taken in Experiment 1. The results are interpreted in terms of the role of eye gaze in influencing spectatorship of portraits and, specifically, Fried’s theory of the “double relation” (Fried, 1980, 1996) between painting and spectator in the paintings of Manet. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2017-05-25
Creator: Donnelly, Nick; Harland, Beth; Mestry, Natalie; Thompson, Natalie; Trawiński, Tobiasz; Liversedge, Simon P.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000096

The effect of instruction on children’s human figure drawing (HFD) tests: Implications for measurement.

Children’s ability to produce human figure drawings (HFDs) develops in a highly predictable stage-like manner, but the rate at which individual children progress through each stage varies considerably. These 2 characteristics—a consistent developmental pattern, coupled with individual differences in the rate of development—have led many to argue that HFDs can be used as a measure of intelligence. One characteristic of traditional pen-and-paper intelligence tests is that they are highly resistant to instruction. Here, we assessed the effect of instruction on children’s scores on the most recent human figure drawing test, the Draw-A-Person Intellectual Ability Test for Children, Adolescents, and Adults (DAP:IQ; Reynolds & Hickman, 2004). A total of 44 11- and 12-year-old children were given 2 lessons in human figure drawing during their biological science class. To measure changes in their drawing scores, the DAP:IQ was administered 3 times: prior to the instruction, shortly after the final instruction session, and, finally, 6 months later. There were significant differences in children’s DAP:IQ scores across these 3 time points. Children showed significant gains shortly after art instruction, but their scores returned to preinstruction levels when they were tested 6 months later. These data challenge the view that the DAP:IQ provides a valid measure of intelligence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2017-03-13
Creator: Cronin, Ann; Gross, Julien; Hayne, Harlene
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000097

Enhancing creativity on different complexity levels by eliciting mental models.

Creativity is the result of applying and combining existing knowledge in a new way. This process becomes ever more challenging with increasing task complexity because of the concomitant increase in information density and interconnectedness. When one’s mental model is explicated, his or her underlying knowledge and the (network-like) relationships that constitute it becomes perceptible and thus easier to be applied creatively. In a 3 × 2 factorial experimental design with 121 students we tested the effect of making mental models explicit by mind-mapping on creative problem-solving. We assumed that the beneficial effects of mind-maps can be further enhanced by applying mind-map templates, which are presketched, blank mind-maps that are filled in by the user. As the first factor, we varied the type of support: A control, a classic mind-map, and a mind-map template group were compared. We also assumed that task complexity has a negative impact on creative problem-solving, which can be mitigated by mental models and their structural relationships which help the user to deal with increased complexity. As the second factor, we varied task complexity. Results showed a significant positive influence of mind-maps on creative problem-solving. Mind-map templates led to the highest levels of fluency and originality in more complex tasks. They seem to release the whole potential of the mind-map technique in such a way that the increase in information density and interconnectedness of more complex tasks is optimally exploited. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2017-04-06
Creator: Malycha, Charlotte P.; Maier, Günter W.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000080

An experimental study of the creative process in writing.

The aim of this study was to implement an experimental manipulation of the creative process in a writing task and to test which patterns of specific subprocesses led to higher creativity. The subprocesses were Generation (idea production and association) and Selection (idea evaluation and formalization). Participants were asked to follow different patterns of the subprocesses according to the experimental condition to which they were assigned. Creativity was judged on the Originality and Quality of the final product; these dimensions were measured using several items and raters. Potential confounds, such as verbal abilities and creative writing habits, were also assessed. The results showed that optimal patterns for creativity were an increasing or constant high level of Selection and a decreasing level of Generation. Control variables also had a significant impact: verbal fluency was positively related to the Quality of the text and creative writing habits were positively related to Originality. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2017-05-25
Creator: Fürst, Guillaume; Ghisletta, Paolo; Lubart, Todd
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000106

Measuring the muses: Validating the Kaufman Domains of Creativity Scale (K-DOCS).

The Kaufman Domains of Creativity Scale (K-DOCS) is a self-report, domain-specific measure assessing creativity in 5 domains: Everyday, Scholarly, Performance, Science, and the Arts. J. C. Kaufman (2012) provided initial evidence for the K-DOCS’ factor structure. However, the factor structure requires replication and the measure has not been validated. The current study examines the factor structure of the K-DOCS and applies the Amusement Park Theoretical hierarchical model as a framework to establish validation evidence. Adults from Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk) (N = 825) and Poland (N = 500) completed the K-DOCS and a measure of the Big Five. The Polish sample also completed other creativity (e.g., CAQ, creative self-beliefs) and noncreativity (e.g., intelligence, dark triad) measures. Confirmatory factor analyses indicated the factor structure of the K-DOCS was reliable. Additionally, we demonstrate convergent and discriminant validity of the 5 K-DOCS factors based on their correlations with domain-general predictors of creativity and domain-specific predictors. We also explored the existence of latent profiles and found that the measure was not well represented with a profile structure. The current study demonstrates that the K-DOCS is a reliable and valid measure for assessing domain-specific creativity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-08-25
Creator: McKay, Alexander S.; Karwowski, Maciej; Kaufman, James C.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000074

Ha ha? Assessing individual differences in humor production ability.

Humor is one of the most salient examples of verbal creativity in everyday life, but relatively little is known about individual differences in the ability to be funny. The present research examines the assessment of humor production ability—the ability to generate funny ideas on the spot. With only a few exceptions, humor ability research has relied on a single task: asking people to write captions for single-panel cartoons. In 3 studies, we evaluate the cartoon-captions task alongside a recent résumé-completion task developed by Howrigan and MacDonald (2008) and 2 new tasks that we developed: a joke-completion task (writing a funny conclusion to a joke set up by the researcher) and a definitions task (writing a funny definition for an odd noun-noun pair, such as yoga bank and cereal bus). In all 3 studies, the newer tasks covaried strongly with the cartoon captions task, suggesting that they measure the same underlying humor production ability. Of the major personality factors, measured based on the NEO (Studies 1 and 2) and HEXACO (Study 3) models, only openness to experience significantly predicted humor ability, and its effects were medium and large in size (β = .48 [.34, .63]; β = .54 [.39, .70]; β = .36 [.22, .50]). The findings suggest that humor ability shares much in common with other forms of verbal creativity, and that researchers could adopt a multimethod approach to measuring it. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)
Date: 2016-12-12
Creator: Nusbaum, Emily C.; Silvia, Paul J.; Beaty, Roger E.
Creator: 10.1037/aca0000086