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Aesthetic appeal influences visual search performance

Irene Reppa Orcid Logo, Siné McDougall Orcid Logo

Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, Volume: 84, Pages: 2483 - 2506

Swansea University Author: Irene Reppa Orcid Logo

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Abstract

Aesthetic appeal of a visual image can influence performance in time-critical tasks, even if it is irrelevant to the task. This series of experiments examined whether aesthetic appeal can act as an object attribute that guides visual search. If appeal enhances the salience of the targets pre-attenti...

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Published in: Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics
ISSN: 1943-3921 1943-393X
Published: Springer Science and Business Media LLC 2022
Online Access: Check full text

URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa61395
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Abstract: Aesthetic appeal of a visual image can influence performance in time-critical tasks, even if it is irrelevant to the task. This series of experiments examined whether aesthetic appeal can act as an object attribute that guides visual search. If appeal enhances the salience of the targets pre-attentively, then appealing icons would lead to more efficient searches than unappealing targets and, conversely, appeal of distractors would reduce search efficiency. Three experiments (N = 112) examined how aesthetic appeal influences performance in a classic visual search task. In each experiment, participants completed 320 visual search trials, with icons varying in rated aesthetic appeal and either visual complexity (Experiments 1 and 2) of concreteness (Experiment 3) among two, four, eight, or 11 distractor icons. While target appeal did not influence search efficiency it sped up search times in all three experiments: appealing targets led to faster response time (RT) than unappealing targets across all experiments, and compared to neutral distractors, appealing distractors slowed search RT down. These findings are the first to show that an object’s aesthetic appeal influences visual search performance.
College: Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences
Start Page: 2483
End Page: 2506