Understanding emotional responses to visual aesthetic artefacts: The SECMEA mechanisms

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While many models attempt to explain the aesthetic experience, most limit themselves to art as their focal point, and only a few look into why we arrive at a certain response to a visual aesthetic object. The current paper attempts to offer an extension to the current models by focusing on the mechanisms that induce emotions in relation to visual aesthetic objects. It takes Juslin’s (2013) BRECVEM mechanisms -- developed for the domain of music -- as its basis. In this paper, Juslin’s mechanisms are adapted to the visual domain, resulting in six different emotion-evoking mechanisms: startle reflex, evaluative conditioning, emotional contagion, mental imagery, syntactic expectancy, and external appraisal. We give an overview of empirical studies demonstrating each of these mechanisms in relation to visual aesthetic objects (visual art as well as advertising and product design). The current paper's focus on emotion-inducing mechanisms and existing empirical research provides a basis to improve empirical testing of emotional responses to a broad range of visual aesthetic objects.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14703572221090536
Number of pages22
JournalVisual communication
Early online date9 Jun 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jun 2022


  • empirical aesthetics
  • emotions
  • advertising
  • aesthetic experience
  • visual aesthetics
  • visual art
  • product design


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