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Symmetry and Balance as Factors of Aesthetic Appreciation: Ethel Puffer’s (1903) “Studies in Symmetry” Revised
Open AccessArticle

Anticipatory Defocusing of Attention and Contextual Response Priming but No Role of Aesthetic Appreciation in Simple Symmetry Judgments when Switching between Tasks

1
Experimental Psychology Unit, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Helmut Schmidt University/University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg, 22043 Hamburg, Germany
2
Faculty of Human Sciences, Medical School Hamburg, 20457 Hamburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Symmetry 2020, 12(4), 577; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym12040577
Received: 29 February 2020 / Revised: 20 March 2020 / Accepted: 25 March 2020 / Published: 6 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Empirical Aesthetics)
Visual attention can be adjusted to task requirements. We asked participants to switch between judging the symmetry of vertically presented three-letter strings and identifying the central stimulus (i.e., Eriksen task) to investigate anticipatory adjustment of attention. Our experiments provide evidence for anticipatory adjustment of visual attention, depending on the cued task (i.e., focusing and defocusing of attention after the Eriksen task cue and after the symmetry task cue, respectively). Although, symmetry judgments were, overall, considerably slower than the identification of the central letter, the effects of response congruency between tasks were comparable in the two tasks, which suggested strong response priming from concurrent symmetry judgment in Eriksen task trials. Symmetry judgment performance was best for homogeneous letter strings (e.g., HHH), worst for strings that were symmetrical and inhomogeneous (e.g., XHX), and intermediate for asymmetrical strings (e.g., HHX). The difficulty of categorizing symmetrical-inhomogeneous items markedly deviated from the aesthetic ratings of the stimuli, displaying a pronounced preference for symmetrical strings, but only little difference among the symmetrical items, and might be accounted by conflict with response priming based on inhomogeneity detection. Although our study provides little evidence for an effect of aesthetic appreciation in simple symmetry judgments, it demonstrates the strong role of contextual dependencies. View Full-Text
Keywords: symmetry; attention; task switching; instruction symmetry; attention; task switching; instruction
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kähler, S.T.; Jacobsen, T.; Klein, S.; Wendt, M. Anticipatory Defocusing of Attention and Contextual Response Priming but No Role of Aesthetic Appreciation in Simple Symmetry Judgments when Switching between Tasks. Symmetry 2020, 12, 577.

AMA Style

Kähler ST, Jacobsen T, Klein S, Wendt M. Anticipatory Defocusing of Attention and Contextual Response Priming but No Role of Aesthetic Appreciation in Simple Symmetry Judgments when Switching between Tasks. Symmetry. 2020; 12(4):577.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kähler, Svantje T.; Jacobsen, Thomas; Klein, Stina; Wendt, Mike. 2020. "Anticipatory Defocusing of Attention and Contextual Response Priming but No Role of Aesthetic Appreciation in Simple Symmetry Judgments when Switching between Tasks" Symmetry 12, no. 4: 577.

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