STRUCTURAL IMBALANCE AND AESTHETIC PREFERENCE IN DOMESTIC CHICKS

  • Paul Mulcahy
  • Orsola Rosa Salva
  • Mark A. Elliott
  • Lucia Regolin

Abstract

In Arnheim's (1954/1974) theory of structural balance, an image is more aesthetically pleasing when it demonstrates balance between multiple internal sources of directed perceptual force. Areas of balance and preferred object positioning are assumed to be near/at centre, and along major structural axes (horizontal, vertical, and diagonals). We studied expediencies in visual processing of structural misalignment in week-old domestic chicks (Gallus gallus), using a conditioning procedure to reinforce chicks for pecking at either an 'aligned' or 'misaligned' image as their training stimulus. Subsequently, a generalization testing phase (using less axially dense stimuli) established whether the chicks would retain their group category, or revert to chance responding. Chicks trained on the misaligned stimuli were more likely to prefer the misaligned test stimuli, while the aligned group reverted to chance responding. Findings are discussed in terms of action-relevant dynamic information resulting from the instability of the preferred images.
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