Publication Date

Spring 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

J. Farley Norman (Director), Matthew Shake, Andrew Mienaltowski

Degree Program

Department of Psychological Sciences

Degree Type

Master of Science


Experimental aesthetics research has been conducted since the nineteenth century. Interestingly, however, few studies have examined the perceived beauty of naturally shaped objects. In the current experiment, 204 participants were presented with a set of ten snowflake silhouettes that varied in complexity (perimeter relative to area); they were similarly presented with ten randomly-shaped, computer-generated, solid objects that also varied in complexity. For each stimulus set, the participants selected the single snowflake or object that was the most beautiful (Fechner’s method of choice). The results for the solid objects replicated the findings of earlier research: the most and least complex objects were chosen as the most beautiful. Moderately complex objects were rarely selected. The results for the snowflakes were different. For these visual stimuli, the least complex snowflakes were almost never chosen; only the complex snowflakes were perceived to be most beautiful, with the aesthetic preference increasing with increases in complexity.


Applied Behavior Analysis | Cognition and Perception | Personality and Social Contexts