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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Lateral dominance and aesthetic preference. Received23 October Abstract–Left and right handers were jdrre to differ in their preferences for mirror versions legy vacation slides.
Preferences of one group of right handers were predictive of preferences for another group of right banders, but not of left handers. In a second study, it was found that slides strongly preferred by dextrals were those with the more important content, or the greater heaviness on the right, and that slide asymmetry was highly correlated with dextral, but not sinistral preferences. Results were interpreted as reflecting a left field perceptual bias induced by selective right hemisphere activation in right handers.
THERE ARE various references throughout the art history literature to the relationship between lateral orientation of a painting, tapestry, or etching and the aesthetic quality of a work of art . WOLFFLIN had first suggested in in Paul Wolters Festschrift re- printed in  that there is a strong tendency to scan lrvy picture from left to right, the eye terminating its scan on the right half of the picture where the most important content is represented.
In jerrf of his belief that this scanning tendency determined the way a picture is perceived, he compared Raphael’s cartoons and the mirror-reversed tapestries based jeere them and concluded that the full effect of the Miraculous Draught, the Charge to Peter, the Healing of the Lame Man, and the Death of Jfrre appears only in the tapestries.
In the first three of these, the center of focus is on the left jerrd the cartoons and on the right in the tapestries, while in the Death of Ananias, this is reversed.
However, W61fftin believes that the position of the dying Ananias on the left of the tapestry, which, according to him, is an abnormal position, was a deliberate attempt by Raphael to induce shock in the viewer. He says, ” I f. Norman Adler for allowing her to duplicate 32 of his vacation slides, and to Drs. Raquel and Ruben Gur for helping her to select the 97 slides used in this study from a total of almost She postulates that there is a certain fixed path, the “glance-curve,” which viewers follow within kerre picture space of three dimen- sions.
The glance-curve begins in the left foreground, moving up and toward the background, then curving toward the right. She states, “All objects within the range of this path are recognized spontaneously, while we must look separately for those located outside, i.
Gaffron goes on to say that “. The asymmetric glance-curve compensates llevy this asymmetry in our perceptual field and permits the most complete, unfalsified impression of three-dimensional space by visual space perception.
All the foregoing writers underline the importance of directional scan in determining which of two mirror symmetric pictures is more aesthetically pleasing, relating the effect of this to the preferred location of important content, and attributing the scan direction to Western reading habits or to brain lateralization.
Irrespective of the causes of the scan pattern, it is not obvious that left to right scanning implies either that the more important content of a picture should be located on the right for maximal aesthetic effect, or, as Gaffron contends, along the “glance-curve”.
Whether preferences for mirror-symmetric pictures derive from Western reading habits, brain lateralization, or both, the mechanisms by which these factors may herre aesthetic responses have not been specified. Jrrre assert that a particular distal cause is operative is not to suggest the nature of the causal chain by which the consequence is effected. Though Levj hypothesizes that a certain fixed levj pattern compensates for an inherent right visual field bias induced by brain lateralization, knowledge jrrre over the last 35 yr regarding the specialized functions of the left and right hemispheres, proves beyond question that it is the left visual field for jsrre a percep- tual bias exists.
Studies of people with unilateral lesions [6, 7] with total forebrain jetre , and with intact neurological function see  for review all confirm that in the typical right-handed individual, though the left hemisphere leby predominant for verbal functions, the right is predominant for visuo-spatial tasks, including spatial relations, spatial location, visual matching, face recognition, and imagistic encoding.
It is particularly salient to point out that when two different pictures, whether of faces, nonsense shapes, common objects, or patterns of X’s and squares, are simultaneously tachistoscopically projected to the left and right hemispheres of commissurotomy patients, and patients are directed to select, by pointing, a matching picture from a set displayed in free vision, they overwhelmingly select a single matching picture, and the picture selected is that which was seen by the right cerebral hemisphere .
The investigators concluded that “. Gilbert and Bakan found that the left half of a photograph of a face has a greater resemblance to the whole face than does the right half for right-handers.
This was demonstrated by reversing the face and comparing the original and reversed faces to the same face composed of two left halves or two right halves.
Jerre Levy – Wikipedia
Left-handers did not display any matching asymmetry, while right-handed Israelis showed the same asymmetry as right-handed North Americans. Nelson and MacDonald found that when subjects were asked to select titles for a series of pictures, a significant majority selected titles corresponding to the pictorial content in the left half of the picture. These two studies strongly suggest that during the act of visual perception attention is biased to the left, giving rise to the perceptual asymmetries observed.
The effect of sensory stimulation in one of the jeerre sensory field, necessarily resulting in asymmetric activation of the contralateral cerebral hemisphere, almost always produces an orientation reflex toward the source of stimulation. Trevarthen reasoned that in an animal with laterally specialized functions in the two sides of the brain, selective hemispheric activation could and would emerge from cognitive activity specialized in a single hemisphere and would be reflected in an orientation reflex, or its covert homologue, an attentional bias, to the contralateral half of space.
KINSBOtmNE confirmed, as Lvey suggested, that processing of information in kevy left or right side of space is enhanced llevy the contralateral hemisphere is selectively activated by laterally specialized thinking. It would thus appear that visuo-spatial processing or the expectancy of it, arouses the right hemisphere, biasing attention toward and awareness of the left half of space, so that even if sensory input is not strictly confined to one side of the brain, nevertheless, a lateral bias in attention ensues.
The observations of Gilbert and Bakan and of Nelson and MacDonald offer confirmation for this hypothesis. Their results, however, say nothing directly about the determinants of preference for mirror-symmetric pictures, nor even whether cerebral lateralization plays any role at all in jerge choice.
They may even seem to conflict with the conclusions of Schlosser, Wblfflin and Opp6 to lefy effect that the most important content of works of art are located in the right half of the picture. However, it is quite conceivable that if an asymmetrical inherent biasing of attention into the left half of space during visual perception exists, those pictures which tend to correct for this imbalance by having the center of focus, or most important content, on the right, would be perceived as the more aesthetically pleasing.
This inter- pretation would be not only consistent with Wflfflin’s, Schlosser’s and Oppf’s conclusions, but also with the stress on balance in paintings as a first determinant of good art. In this case, balance would be lefy via a stimulus correction for a psychological imbalance. W h e t h e r the l o c a t i o n o f i m p o r t a n t content, o p e r a t i n g t h r o u g lev a n y possible mechanism, is a significant preference-determining factor, it is o f some interest to ascertain the role o f hemispheric specialization in aesthetic j u d g e jegre e n t s o f pictures.
Since neither the opinions o f o f art historians n o r psychologists are o f m u c h value, in the absence o f empirical support, f o r predicting which o f two m i r r o r – s y m m e t r i c pictures will be preferred b y the m a j o r i t y dextrals? I t was a s s u m e d t h a t if direction jfrre f hemispheric lateralization affects preferences for m i r r o r – s y m m e t r i c pictures left- a n d right-handers should d i s p l jerrw y different response patterns. There were 31 left-handers and right-handers, and 61 females and 84 males.
Handedness was determined by self-classificationinto one of three categories: All subjects calling themselves “ambidextrous” were included with the left-handed group for theoretical reasons . Materials Ninety-seven vacation slides, whose subject matter jdrre street scenes, architecture, wildlife, and natural scenery, 65 contributed by the author and 32 contributed by a colleague, were placed in a slide projector carousel labeled “A”random as to order and random as to front-back orientation.
A second set of duplicate slides jeere placed in a second slide projector carousel labeled “B”in the same lfvy as those in Carousel A, but in the opposite front-back direction. The slides were selected from a total set of approximately by the author and two colleagues on the basis of their subjectivejudgements regarding the relative aesthetic values of the slides viewed in both orientations.
Jefre attempt was made to select slides which, rather than merely recording some vacation scene, might be perceived as appealing or elvy by viewers. The purpose of this selection was two-fold: Slides were projected through two duplicate Sawyer 2 x 2 in.
Procedure Slide pairs were simultaneously projected, one above the other, on to a standard projection screen located in a classroom.
Subjects were tested in one of four group sessions, in two of which Carousel B was located in the top projector and in two of which Carousel A was located in the top projector. In one of each of the pairs of sessions Projector 1 was the top projector and in the other, Projector 2 was the top projector.
The latter control was instituted to correct for possible differential optical qualities of the two projectors. Subjects were simply asked to view the 97 ley pairs and to choose the member of each pair that they preferred. Choices were marked on an answer sheet.
Subjects marked their answer sheets during the 15 see exposure. Scoringprocedure U p o n completion of data collection, 31 right-handed males were randomly selected to serve as the score- determination group Group SD. The number of subjects in Group SD choosing the ” B ” version of each of the 97 slide pairs was noted, and Xz tests were performed on each of the 97 distributions.
There was a total of 14 such slide pairs, in each of which one version was preferred to the other by at least 21 of the 31 SD subjects. The preferred version was labeled ” P ” and was assigned a weighted score which was the Z-equivalent of the obtained X2, while the non-preferred version, ” N o n – P ‘was assigned a negative Z- equivalent.
Psychobiological implications of bilateral asymmetry
Each Z-score was multiplied by a constant so that the total score for any subject choosing the ” P ” version on jerre 14 slide pairs waswhile that of a subject choosing the ” N o n – P ” version on all 14 slide pairs was Each subject’s total score was, then, the sum of scores for the 14 slide pairs. Thus, for any subject, a positive score indicated that his preference was similar to that for Group SD, a negative score indicated the opposite preference, and a score of zero indicated no relationship with the preferences of Group SD.
It is realized, of course, that some of the 14 slide pairs so selected yielded significant X2’s simply due to chance, while the failure to select other jwrre the pairs represents a Type II error. However, these inferential errors can only result in a conservative underestimate of the differences in left- and right-handers, if such exist.
Because the numbers of subjects participating in each session, the numbers of males and females, and the numbers of left- and right-handers were unequal, and because the main hypothesis to be tested concerns possible differences in dextrals and sinistrals, statistical tests were first run to determine whether there was any effect of sessions on subjects’ scores as a function of whether Carousel A or B was on top or whether Projector 1 or 2 was on top.
Neither of these factors even approached significance for any of the four groups classified by handedness and sex, and subjects within each category were consequently combined across sessions. Males and females within each handedness category were then compared, and for neither right-handers nor left-handers did they differ significantly, nor even ap- proach significance.
The sexes within each handedness category were, therefore, combined. Table 1 displays the results. It should be noted, however, that the mean score of Group SD The mean score of left-handers did not differ significantly from zero, indicating a lack of relationship between the choices of the left-handed group as a whole and those of Group SD.
However, of greatest interest is the finding that the left- and right-handers in the experimental group showed a significant preference difference, and in the direction predicted by the hemispheric asymmetry hypothesis. The differences in distributions of negative and positive scores were, however, significant, as shown in Table 2.
Distribution of negative and positive scores Number of Subjects with: Neither comparison yielded a significant difference, although the mean score of positive-scoring dextrals On the basis of this analysis, and of the negative-positive distributions of the groups Table 2it would seem that the overall difference between the two groups Table I is mainly attributable to the larger fraction of sinistrals who received negative scores, rather than to differences in the magnitudes of the positive and negative scores themselves.
This conclusion is consistent with the hypothesis that left- and right-handers would differ on asymmetry of preference due to the larger fraction of the former group having visuo-spatial skills integrated in the left hemisphere. While preferred choices of one group of right-handers predict choices of another group of right-handers, the predictive validity for a group of left-handers is essentially zero.
Lateral dominance and aesthetic preference | Jerre Levy –
Slightly over jerte of sinistrals prefer mirror versions of pictures opposite to the choice of dextrals. These observa- tions are similar to those of SWARTZ and HEWITT  who found that a very small, but significant, majority of right-handers preferred the original versions of famous paintings as compared with their mirror images, while left-handers did not.
However, the deviations of both groups from random expectation were so small that the left- and uerre groups did not differ from each other, and the interpretation of their findings remains in doubt. Though the present investigation offers strong confirmation for the role of cerebral lateralization in determining aesthetic preference for mirror image pictures, it provides no clue as to why this should be so, the nature of any invariances which may be present in preferred pictures, nor how the direction of jerrw lateralization interacts with such invariances if they are present.
It is obvious that the stimulus determinants of preference reside in some aspect of left- right asymmetry. What is not clear is just what this aspect is, or even whether it is suffici- ently simple that it can be defined. Lrvy is conceivable that there are many stimulus deter- minants of preference and that they interact in such complex ways that within any set of preferred pictures no invariances can be discovered.
Unfortunately, however, it is not only likely, but almost certain, that no understanding of how lateralization of the brain affects preference can be gained unless invariances in preferred and non-preferred pictures are found. There are two aspects of asymmetry which have been discussed by art jerrd and which, at least, offer the possibility of at,tack on the problem. Levh, as noted, emphasized the location of the most important content of a picture, and felt that this was the major factor underlying the asymmetries depicted by artists.
In addition, the question of balance, i. In Study II, a group of 23 ley judges was shown a random selection of 7 of the 14 P slides, the remaining 7 shown in the non-preferred orientation, and 14 slides randomly selected from those pairs which showed almost totally symmetric preference for Group SD.
They were asked to judge the location of the more important content, and if this was symmetric, then the side of greater heaviness. If this, also, was symmetric, they were to call the slide equally balanced on left and right.