CognitionJournalMotivation and EmotionSensory Systems

Continuous ratings of movie watching reveal idiosyncratic dynamics of aesthetic enjoyment

The figure shows continuous rating traces for one clip from many participants. The ratings showed remarkable differences across different participants, both in terms of liking and variability over time.

Visual aesthetic experiences unfold over time, yet most of our understanding of such experiences comes from experiments using static visual stimuli and measuring static responses. Here, we investigated the temporal dynamics of subjective aesthetic experience using temporally extended stimuli (movie clips) in combination with continuous behavioral ratings. Two groups of participants, a rate group (n = 25) and a view group (n = 25), watched 30-second video clips of landscapes and dance performances in test and retest blocks. The rate group reported continuous ratings while watching the videos, with an overall aesthetic judgment at the end of each video, in both test and retest blocks. The view group, however, passively watched the videos in the test block, reporting only an overall aesthetic judgment at the end of each clip. In the retest block, the view group reported both continuous and overall judgments. When comparing the two groups, we found that the task of making continuous ratings did not influence overall ratings or agreement across participants. In addition, the degree of temporal variation in continuous ratings over time differed substantially by observer (from slower “integrators” to “fast responders”), but less so by video. Reliability of continuous ratings across repeated exposures was in general high, but also showed notable variance across participants. Together, these results show that temporally extended stimuli produce aesthetic experiences that are not the same from person to person, and that continuous behavioral ratings provide a reliable window into the temporal dynamics of such aesthetic experiences while not materially altering the experiences themselves.


Isik, A. I., & Vessel, E. A. (2019). Continuous ratings of movie watching reveal idiosyncratic dynamics of aesthetic enjoyment. PLOS ONE, 14(10).
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