↓ Skip to main content

The Conundrum of Modern Art

Overview of attention for article published in Human Nature, October 2016
Altmetric Badge

About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (94th percentile)
  • Good Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (71st percentile)

Mentioned by

news
2 news outlets
blogs
2 blogs
twitter
14 tweeters

Citations

dimensions_citation
2 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
16 Mendeley
Title
The Conundrum of Modern Art
Published in
Human Nature, October 2016
DOI 10.1007/s12110-016-9274-7
Pubmed ID
Authors

Jan Verpooten, Siegfried Dewitte

Abstract

Two major mechanisms of aesthetic evolution have been suggested. One focuses on naturally selected preferences (Evolutionary Aesthetics), while the other describes a process of evaluative coevolution whereby preferences coevolve with signals. Signaling theory suggests that expertise moderates these mechanisms. In this article we set out to verify this hypothesis in the domain of art and use it to elucidate Western modern art's deviation from naturally selected preferences. We argue that this deviation is consistent with a Coevolutionary Aesthetics mechanism driven by prestige-biased social learning among art experts. In order to test this hypothesis, we conducted two studies in which we assessed the effects on lay and expert appreciation of both the biological relevance of the given artwork's depicted content, viz., facial beauty, and the prestige specific to the artwork's associated context (MoMA). We found that laypeople appreciate artworks based on their depictions of facial beauty, mediated by aesthetic pleasure, which is consistent with previous studies. In contrast, experts appreciate the artworks based on the prestige of the associated context, mediated by admiration for the artist. Moreover, experts appreciate artworks depicting neutral faces to a greater degree than artworks depicting attractive faces. These findings thus corroborate our contention that expertise moderates the Evolutionary and Coevolutionary Aesthetics mechanisms in the art domain. Furthermore, our findings provide initial support for our proposal that prestige-driven coevolution with expert evaluations plays a decisive role in modern art's deviation from naturally selected preferences. After discussing the limitations of our research as well as the relation that our results bear on cultural evolution theory, we provide a number of suggestions for further research into the potential functions of expert appreciation that deviates from naturally selected preferences, on the one hand, and expertise as a moderator of these mechanisms in other cultural domains, on the other.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 14 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 16 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 16 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 4 25%
Student > Bachelor 3 19%
Student > Ph. D. Student 3 19%
Professor 2 13%
Student > Postgraduate 1 6%
Other 3 19%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Psychology 8 50%
Arts and Humanities 2 13%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 2 13%
Business, Management and Accounting 1 6%
Unspecified 1 6%
Other 2 13%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 41. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 07 May 2018.
All research outputs
#385,900
of 12,902,491 outputs
Outputs from Human Nature
#68
of 379 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#14,645
of 266,559 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Human Nature
#4
of 14 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 12,902,491 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 97th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 379 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 28.7. This one has done well, scoring higher than 82% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 266,559 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 94% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 14 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 71% of its contemporaries.