Scholarly sources

Here, you can find an ongoing list of scholarly articles related to photography, the perception of photographs & aesthetic preference/reactions to photographs.I chose articles that specifically focus on ‘the photograph’ as the topic of interest, instead of those that use photographs to understand perception in real-life. The boundary can be blurry, when in doubt, I’ve added it here too.

Psycho-aesthetics articles focusing on photography

  • Abeln, J., Fresz, L., Amirshahi, S. A., McManus, I. C., Koch, M., Kreysa, H., & Redies, C. (2016). Preference for well-balanced saliency in details cropped from photographs. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 9(January), 1–16.

  • Amirshahi, S. A., Redies, C., Denzler, J., & Hayn-Leichsenring, G. (2014). Evaluating the rule of thirds in photographs and paintings. Art & Perception, 2, 163–182.

  • Axelsson, Ö. (2007). Towards a psychology of photography: dimensions underlying aesthetic appeal of photographs. Percept. Motor. Skill., 105(2), 411–434.

  • Axelsson, Ö. (2007). Individual differences in preferences to photographs. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 1(2), 61–72.

  • Bruno, N., Gabriele, V., Tasso, T., & Bertamini, M. (2014). ‘Selfies’ reveal systematic deviations from known principles of photographic composition. Art & Perception, 2(1–2), 45–58.

  • Cooper, E. A., Piazza, E. A., & Banks, M. S. (2012). The perceptual basis of common photographic practice. Journal of Vision, 12(5), 8–8.

  • Gershoni, S., & Kobayashi, H. (2005). How we look at photographs as indicated by the ability to discriminate contrast in grey-scale vs. photographs. Journal of the Society of Photographic Science and Technology of Japan, 68, 518–531.

  • Gershoni, S., & Kobayashi, H. (2006). How we look at photographs as indicated by contrast discrimination performance versus contrast preference. Journal of Imaging Science and Technology, 50, 320–326.

  • Gómez-Puerto, G., Rosselló, J., Corradi, G., Acedo-Carmona, C., Munar, E., & Nadal, M. (2017). Preference for curved contours across cultures. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts.

  • Kuzinas, A., Noiret, N., Bianchi, R., & Laurent, É. (2016). The effects of image hue and semantic content on viewer’s emotional self-reports , pupil size, eye movements, and skin conductance response. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 10(3), 360–371.

  • McManus, I. C., Stöver, K., & Kim, D. (2011). Arnheim’s gestalt theory of visual balance: Examining the compositional structure of art photographs and abstract images. I-Perception, 2(6), 615–647.

  • McManus, I. C., Zhou, F. A., l’Anson, S., Waterfield, L., Stöver, K., & Cook, R. (2011). The psychometrics of photographic cropping: The influence of colour, meaning, and expertise. Perception, 40(3), 332–357.

  • Mulas, V., Troffa, R., & Caddeo, P. (2012). Differences between Experts and Non-experts in photographic perception and assessment. Cognitive Processing, 13(1 SUPPL), 275–279.

  • Mullenix, J. W., Foytik, L. R., Chan, C. H., Draguin, B. R., Maloney, M., & Polaski, L. (2013). Automaticity and the processing of artistic photographs. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 31(2), 145–171.

  • Mullin, C., Hayn-Leichsenring, G., & Wagemans, J. (2015). There is beauty in gist: An investigation of aesthetic perception in rapidly presented scenes. Journal of Vision, 15(12), 123.

  • Niu, Y., Todd, R. M., Kyan, M., & Anderson, A. K. (2012). Visual and emotional salience influence eye movements. ACM Transactions on Applied Perception, 9(3), 1–18.

  • Palmer, S. E., Gardner, J. S., & Wickens, T. D. (2008). Aesthetic issues in spatial composition: Effects of position and perspective on framing single objects. Spatial Vision, 21(3–5), 421–449.

  • Smith, L. F., Arcand, K. K., Smith, B. K., Smith, R. K., Bookbinder, J., & Smith, J. K. (2017). Black holes and vacuum cleaners: Using metaphor, relevance, and inquiry in labels for space images. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 11(3), 359–374.

  • Stieger, S., & Swami, V. (2015). Time to let go? No automatic aesthetic preference for the golden ratio in art pictures. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9(1), 91–100.

  • Tinio, P. P. L., & Leder, H. (2009). Natural scenes are indeed preferred, but image quality might have the last word. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3(1), 52–56.

  • Tinio, P. P. L., Leder, H., & Strasser, M. (2011). Image quality and the aesthetic judgment of photographs: Contrast, sharpness, and grain teased apart and put together. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 5(2), 165–176.

  • Tousignant, C., & Bodner, G. E. (2014). Context effects on beauty ratings of photos: Building contrast effects that erode but cannot be knocked down. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 8(1), 81–86.

  • Wagner, V., Menninghaus, W., Hanich, J., & Jacobsen, T. (2014). Art schema effects on affective experience: The case of disgusting images. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 8(2), 120–129.


  • McManus, I. C., & Stöver, K. (2014). “Mute, motionless, variegated rectangles”: aesthetics and photography. In P. P. L. Tinio & J. K. Smith (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Psychology of Aesthetics and the Arts (pp. 243–276). New York: Cambridge University Press.