Material Aesthetics (10-05-21)

Marschallek and team studied how we discuss materials with the goal of better understanding how we experience differences in them.  The group reports that “this study examines the conceptual structure of the aesthetics of various materials (Werkstoffe)—for instance, leather, metal, and wood. . . . we asked 1,956 students to write down adjectives that could be used to describe the aesthetics of materials. . . . A second subsample of a broader cross-section of the population (n = 496) replicated the findings obtained with the first subsample. A joint analysis of both subsamples identified the term ‘smooth’ as by far the most relevant term, followed by the other core terms ‘hard,’ ‘rough,’ ‘soft,’ and ‘glossy.’ Furthermore, sensorial qualities (e.g., ‘warm’ and ‘see-through’) constituted the main elements of the aesthetics of materials, and the great majority of these were haptic [tactile] qualities (e.g., ‘cold’ and ‘heavy’).”

Barbara Marschallek, Valentin Wagner, and Thomas Jacobsen. “Smooth As Glass and Hard As Stone?  On the Conceptual Structure of the Aesthetics of Materials.”  Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, in press,