Evaluating aesthetic experience through personal-appearance styles: A behavioral and electrophysiological study

Mei Chun Cheung, Ka Ming Law, Yiu Wan Yip

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Consumers' aesthetic experience has often been linked with the concept of beauty, which is regarded as subjective and may vary between individuals, cultures and places, and across time. With the advent of brain-imaging techniques, there is more and more evidence to suggest that aesthetic experience lies not only in the eye of the beholder, but also in the brain of the beholder. However, there are gaps in the previous research in this area, as several significant issues have not yet been addressed. Specifically, it is unclear whether the human brain really pays more attention and generates more positive emotional responses to beautiful things. To explore the brain activity relating to consumers' aesthetic experiences, 15 participants were recruited voluntarily to view a series of personal-appearance styles. They were invited to make aesthetic judgments while their brain activity was recorded by electroencephalography. Two electroencephalographic (EEG) indicators, theta coherence and frontal alpha symmetry, were utilized. Theta coherence is a measure of linear synchronization between signals at two electrode sites. It reflects the degree of functional cooperation between the underlying neuronal substrates and was used to explore the attentional processing involved in aesthetic judgments. Frontal alpha asymmetry is derived by subtracting the log-transformed absolute alpha power of the left hemisphere from the analogous log-transformed alpha power of the right hemisphere. It was used as an indicator of emotional response. During aesthetic judgments, long-range theta coherence increased in both hemispheres and more positive frontal alpha asymmetry was found when the styles were judged to be beautiful. Therefore, participants demonstrated brain activity suggestive of central executive processing and more positive emotional responses when they considered styles to be beautiful. The study provides some insight into the brain activity associated with consumers' aesthetic experiences, and suggests new directions for exploring consumers behavior from the perspective of neuroscience.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere115112
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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