| Psychology of Art: Is Liberalism-Conservatism Related to Art Preferences?
There are differences in how people evaluate art. Some people may like abstract and complex art, and others may not. These differences may partly reflect differences in attitudes and personality. Would people who are generally liberal like different types of art than people who are generally conservative?
Wilson, Ausman, and Mathews (1973) had participants indicate the extent to which they liked 20 paintings. The painting reflected four categories: complex abstract, simple abstract, complex representational, and simple representational. On the average, participants who were categorized as liberal indicated that they liked the complex abstract and complex representational paintings more than people categorized as conservative. On the other hand, the participants categorized as conservative indicated, on the average, that they liked the simple representational paintings more than the participants categorized as liberal. The difference between the liberal and conservative groups for the simple abstract paintings was not statistically significant.
These findings suggest that people who are less conservative tend to like complex paintings more than people who are more conservative. The findings may have some important implications. If you are giving a painting as a gift, you may wish to consider the degree to which the person is liberal or conservative because it may be related to the type of painting the person may like.
Because the findings are correlational, we cannot make causal conclusions from the findings. Other explanations cannot be ruled out. There may be other variables related to liberalism-conservatism that could explain the findings.
Wilson, G. D., Ausman, J., & Mathews, T. R. (1973). Conservatism and art
preferences. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 25, 286-288.