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Aesthetic Sensitivity

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We constantly make decisions and behave according to how much we like something. Indeed, the ability to value objects, situations and events based on sensory features is a fundamental aspect of cognition and crucial for survival. But what makes us like something? Why do we like different things and different object features in different ways? To investigate these phenomena, we define aesthetic sensitivity as the extent to which people rely on a particular feature when evaluating an object. Thus, for example, someone who likes symmetrical designs but not asymmetric ones would be aesthetically sensitive to symmetry. In contrast, someone whose liking is not affected by this feature would be aesthetically insensitive to it. However, this seemingly obvious and intuitive idea of aesthetic sensibility is relatively novel and certainly groundbreaking. Indeed, this research constitutes a thorough revision of the idea of aesthetic sensitivity that strengthens an integral renewal of the field of empirical aesthetics recently proposed by Martin Skov and Marcos Nadal. Specifically, it provides theoretical, methodological, and empirical grounds in favour of this conception of aesthetic sensitivity, contributing a historical-critical review of the origin and development of the idea of aesthetic sensitivity, a new theoretical approach aligned with current neuroscientific knowledge, novel methodological tools to investigate psychological constructs, and empirical evidence based on this conception that advances the scientific understanding of sensory valuation. Therefore, the value and relevance of this research are manifold, as it entails profound epistemological considerations, provides new tools and empirical evidence, poses new research questions, and paves the way for further scientific inquiry into sensory valuation by establishing an advantageous platform for scientific research.

This talk is part of the CMS seminar series in the Faculty of Music series.

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