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Personality, demographics and art experience proved to play an important role in reactions to visual art. Nevertheless, research attempts that take into account all those factors when determining predictors of aesthetic responses to different artistic styles are quite rare. The study presented here investigates predictors of aesthetic experience across figurative, abstract and contemporary paintings in individuals with varying expertise. Students enrolled in Sport, Humanities and the Arts programmes (N = 181) declared their art exposure and filled out personality measures (Big Five, alexithymia, need for closure). Next participants evaluated three paintings using a tool constructed by the authors to track various dimensions of aesthetic reactions (i.e. negative/positive affective responses, self-references, explicit knowledge and perceived mastery of the artwork). Reactions to figurative painting depended mostly on formal knowledge about arts, not personality traits. Aesthetic perception of abstract art rely not only on art exposure, but also on some individual characteristics (openness to experience, tolerance of ambiguity and ability to identify one’s own emotions and track their source). Reception of contemporary art was predicted mostly by art exposure variables and in the case of negative emotionality by ability to identify one’s own emotions and track their source. Both formal art education and art experience were stronger predictors of aesthetic responses than personality traits, for all art styles and dimensions of aesthetic experience. Personality predictors were significant mostly for abstract art. Personal interest in the arts seems to be as good predictor of aesthetic reactions as formal expertise.
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