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Individual differences in the responses to artworks: building research impact with art galleries


Wednesday 1 May 2024

1pm - 2pm




B001, Business School



An image of part of the Main Building at Edge Hill University.

The objective of this talk is to present a research project in collaboration with TATE Liverpool and offer insights into the process of conducting research with external stakeholders. Evidence shows that visitors’ exploration of artworks is both temporally and spatially limited. This calls into question the quality of the experience and demands new interventions for public engagement. Evidence-based interventions can generate societal impact while maximizing the use of financial support for the art sector.

As part of the TATE Exchange programme, which aimed to enhance visitors’ experience of the art gallery, we designed a task to investigate individual differences in art spectatorship. Specifically, we were interested in the role of visual exploration of artworks in relation to personal traits and aesthetic responses. Fifty-six visitors to the gallery viewed seven artworks while their eye movements were recorded. Participants rated their aesthetic response to the artwork and wrote their thoughts and impressions about each artwork. Two individual difference measures were administered: Openness to Experience (OTE) and Need for Cognitive Closure (NFC). The results indicate that visual exploration plays a functional role in the experience of artworks in a real gallery setting, and that visual exploration is a mechanism through which OTE and NFC influence aesthetic responses. The implications of these results are discussed in relation to possible interventions in art curatorship, leading to new collaborations with the National Museums Liverpool and other partners within the Region.

Guest speaker

Dr Letizia Palumbo is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Liverpool Hope University. As part of the Vision and Cognition Research Group, her research focuses on visual preference and empirical aesthetics. She is interested in the interplay between perceptual, emotional and cognitive processes on preference for object properties (i.e. smooth curvature, symmetry, complexity) interior design and artworks by considering individual differences, personality and expertise.

Read more about Dr Letizia Palumbo’s work

Who is this event for?

Current students Everyone