When you look at a beautiful thing, the brain begins to process that information in a way that allows you to see its meaning, according to new research from the University of Melbourne.
The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, found that people often take a “value judgment” when they buy something.
They assume that because something is beautiful, it must be worth something.
“When a person is presented with a beautiful object, they are likely to make the decision that it is beautiful,” said lead researcher Dr Sarah Pfeiffer.
“It could be worth more than a dollar.”
Dr Pfeifer said it’s common for people to “undervalue” a beautiful piece of art or product because they think that it will make them feel good.
“It is not the beauty that is important, it is the meaning behind the beauty,” she said.
“If we want to understand why we think beauty is valuable, we need to understand how it is valued.”
The research team analysed data from the 2015 National Beauty Survey, conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Participants were asked to rate each of nine pieces of art, from a statue of Venus to a statue from the ancient Chinese city of Qinhuangbana.
“Our results show that when people evaluate the beauty of an object, their brains generate a value judgment, but this judgment is more likely to be negative than positive,” Dr Pfeife said.
Dr Pffile said people’s perceptions about beauty can have “huge impacts on their behaviour”.
“This research indicates that when you buy a beautiful item, you are actually paying attention to its meaning and value.
This could make you more appreciative of the value of beauty,” Dr, Pfeifer said.
Read more:Beauty, value and the brainThe study also found that while people often value a piece of artwork, they were also more likely than others to “value” something that has less value.
“When people perceive a beautiful image, they do not perceive it as worth a dollar,” Dr Poiffer said.
This may be because “beauty has a very high cost” and “people are more willing to pay for something that they think is worth more.”
The study’s lead author, Dr Anna Kudryavtsev, said beauty “is an emotion” and the experience of beauty was “highly subjective”.
“If you’re looking at a piece that is not worth a hundred dollars, you’ll think ‘I’m going to want to get it’.
If it’s worth a thousand dollars, it might be tempting to get a thousand more,” she added.
The team has been working on their research for more than two years.
They hope to study how the experience and value of art affects how people perceive the value and importance of different items.
The research was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.