Why do we value handmade objects, even when “perfect” machine made options are available? Waytz in The Power of Human: How Our Shared Humanity Can Help Us Create a Better World answers that question. Waytz reports, for example, that “people consciously or subconsciously judge the value of something based on the perceived effort put into it. The first studies examining this effect, led by psychologist Justin Kruger . . . demonstrated that people valued poems, paintings, and medieval armor more highly when they believed these artifacts required more human effort to produce. . . .
Liu, Yin, and Liang, in research relevant to art selection and other design decisions, have learned that we prefer to see things clearly. They investigated “a potential association between clarity (i.e., operationalized as visual resolution) and affect [emotion] in human cognition. . . . providing support for the ideas of embodied cognition as well as implications for our preference for clarity and aversion to blur. . . . the present findings provide important implications for the evaluative judgments in daily life.
Mastandrea, Wagoner, and Hogg looked at links between where people live and art preferences. They learned that when “American and Italian participants evaluated two pieces of abstract art and two pieces of representational art that were attributed to fictional American or Italian artists.
Our attitudes towards nature evolve over our lives. Meidenbauer and colleagues found that “Children aged 4-11 years do not show the preference for nature [over urban spaces] found in adults [children demonstrated robust preferences for urban over natural environments]. With age, children’s preferences for urban over natural environments decrease. More nearby nature is associated with fewer attention problems in children. The observed attentional benefits are unrelated to the children’s preferences. Children’s preferences were not linked to their home, school or play environments. . . .
What do children think is important at pediatric hospitals? Researchers from Edith Cowan University collected information from school-aged children in Australia and New Zealand during hospital stays and determined that “Feeling safe and being able to get to sleep at night are the things that matter most to sick kids in hospital. . . . The children surveyed identified their most important needs as:
1 ‘To know I am safe and will be looked after.’
2 ‘To get enough sleep at night.’
Huang and colleagues studied preferences for different lighting conditions. They investigated “the correlation between the perceived whiteness of lighting and the corresponding colour preference of observers. . . . meta-analysis results confirm our former statement that people prefer whiter illumination. . . .
Hubner and Fillinger investigated how the apparent balance and stability of elements in images influenced how much they were liked. They determined that “for the multiple-element stimuli, there was a positive relation between balance/stability and liking. . . . each element in a picture has a certain visual ‘weight’ depending on its features like size, shape, and color (Arnheim, 1954). . . . a heavy weight located on one side of the fulcrum can be balanced by a lighter weight positioned further away on the other side. . . .
Townsend and Barton link our current responses to various sorts of trees to our experiences as a young species. Their review of existing research indicates “that humans across the globe find broad spreading tree form beautiful. This form recalls the trees of the ancient African savanna where our species evolved.” The researchers also report that their work leads to predictions that “humans prefer sleeping on the second story, elevated off the ground, because we associate elevation off the ground with safety. . . .
Places where children feel safe
Kids and adults have similar preferences