Would you appreciate the works of Beethoven or Picasso less if you learned that they were collaborative efforts? New research suggests that we judge art based on our perception of the effort that went into it, and collaborations don’t particularly impress us.
via Pacific Standard:
“For creative works, perceptions of quality appear to be based on perceptions of individual, rather than total, effort,” Yale University researchers Rosanna Smith and George Newman write in the journalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. Their findings suggest art “is not evaluated as a static entity, but rather as an endpoint in a ‘creative performance.’”
That notion was first proposed by philosopher Denis Dutton. The researchers note that, in his 2009 book Beauty, Pleasure and Human Evolution, he argued that “how a creative work was made (who was involved, how long it took, etc.) is central to how we determine its quality and relative value.”
To exploring that notion, and specifically to apply it to works with multiple authors, Smith and Newman performed three experiments. In the first, 222 adults recruited online looked at two images of a sculpture by Tara Donovan made up of “millions of stacked, translucent plastic cups.”
Participants were randomly told it was created by one, two, three, or five artists. After viewing the photos, they rated its quality on a one-to-seven scale.
“As predicted, participants rated the sculpture as higher quality when it was created by a single artist,” the researchers report. “As the number of authors increased, ratings of quality decreased.”