Tröndle, Martin / Tschacher, Wolfgang (2012): The Physiology of Phenomenology: The Effects of Artworks. Empirical Studies of the Arts, Vol. 30 (1), 75-113. DOI: 10.2190/EM.30.1.g.

In a five-year long research project “eMotion—mapping museum experience,” we assessed which effects artworks had on museum visitors and their behavior in the field. We tested several hypotheses such as: Does a famous work attract more attention than a less renowned one, and a “loud” artwork more than a subtle one? Do similar artworks generate similar visitor reactions? Does an artwork lose its attraction if manipulated? To investigate these questions, experiments were conducted using special technology that allowed tracking of visitors’ physical locomotion and continuous measurement of physiological markers in the gallery. We also recorded visitors’ general subjective assessments of their museum experience, and with respect to specific artworks. Using this innovative approach, we were able to demonstrate strong correlations between artworks, the physical reactions of the visitors, their spatial behavior, and aesthetic ratings.

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