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Why are all photos beautiful? On the hedonistic effect of photography eidetics

Why are all photos beautiful? On the hedonistic effect of photography eidetics

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Recieved: 02/19/2023

Accepted: 06/13/2023

Published: 08/18/2023

Keywords: photography; aesthetics; iconic memory; eidetics; memory development; nostalgia; visual perception

p.: 35-45

DOI: 10.11621/npj.2023.0305

Available online: 18.08.2023

To cite this article:

Nourkova, V. V.. Why are all photos beautiful? On the hedonistic effect of photography eidetics. // National Psychological Journal 2023. 3. p.35-45. doi: 10.11621/npj.2023.0305

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Issue 3, 2023

Nourkova, V. V. Lomonosov Moscow State University


Background. A growing number of studies on the aesthetic attributes of photography employs inductive methods of big data analysis and psychosemantic methods of identifying superordinate categories relevant to the aesthetic assessment of photo images. However, the question of the causes and mechanisms of the total hedonistic effect in perceiving photographs is still open.

Objective. The manuscript aims to review the main results of the psychophysical and psychosemantic approaches to the aesthetics of photography. The author intends to formulate and provide some theoretical evidence for the novel exploration of the total hedonistic effect of photographs perception, based on the interpretation of photography as a cultural means of developing eidetics.

Methods. The literature on aesthetic psychophysics and psychosemantics of photography was reviewed. The study employed the optics of cultural-historical psychology to develop a novel hypothesis on the total hedonistic effect of perceiving photographs.

Results. The analysis of literature based on psychophysics approach indicated that such image qualities as contrast, sharpness, grain teased, and composing in accord with the golden ratio impact the attractiveness of photography. The use of psychosemantic methods made it possible to identify more specific categories that mediate subjective beauty of a photograph: Familiarity / Predictability, Dynamism, Monochrome, and Time Distance. However, I supposed that the approaches described above do not take into account the status of photography as a cultural means of over-compensation for the biological limitations of visual perception and iconic memory. From this perspective, photography scales the scene to the zone of central vision, eliminates the color overload and, thus, provides optimal conditions for high-quality and economical perception. To compensate for iconic memory deficiencies, photography stabilizes the image and makes repetition possible. In addition, photography returns to the viewer the experience of a “long” iconic image, characteristic of a child, which degrades in adulthood and, thus, provokes nostalgic emotions.

Conclusion. It is assumed that the basis of the hedonistic effect of viewing photographs is the optimal complement of visual perception and iconic memory, so that photography not only compensates for its deficiencies, but also implements an ideal project for their development.


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To cite this article:

Nourkova, V. V.. Why are all photos beautiful? On the hedonistic effect of photography eidetics. // National Psychological Journal 2023. 3. p.35-45. doi: 10.11621/npj.2023.0305

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