Originally published in 1962, the experimental study of aesthetics was a field particularly associated with the name of C.W. Valentine, who in this book provided a critical review of research carried out since the end of the nineteenth century principally by British and American psychologists. The investigations described, many of them conducted by the author, are concerned with individual responses to what is commonly regarded as beautiful in painting, music, and poetry, an important distinction being made between the perception of objects as ‘beautiful’ as opposed to ‘pleasing’. The reactions of children and adults, and of people having different ethnic and social backgrounds, are explored in a variety of experiments dealing with specific elements, including colour, form, and balance in painting; musical intervals, discord, harmony, melody, and tempo; and rhythm, metre, imagery, and associations in classical and romantic poetry. Other experiments seek to disclose the temperamental and attitudinal factors underlying individual differences in the judgement and appreciation of specific works of art. Of particular interest are the studies of responses to modern paintings, poems and musical compositions.
The findings throw light on the development of discrimination and taste and suggest the possibility of some common factor in the appreciation of these three arts. It was felt that critics as well as psychologists and aestheticians would find much to encourage reflection and to stimulate further research.
1. Introduction 2. Colour and Colour Preferences 3. Attitudes to Colours and Combinations of Colours 4. Form: Lines, Shapes and Suggested Movement 5. Balance and Symmetry 6. The Appearance of Aesthetic Appreciation in Young Children 7. Experiments with Pictures 8. Further Experiments with Pictures and with Photographs of Objets D’Art 9. Some Reactions to Modern Art 10. Musical Intervals and Attitudes to Music 11. Some Special Aspects of and Factors in Listening to Music 12. Music and the Expression of Emotions or ‘Meaning’ 13. Experiments on the Appreciation of Poetry 14. Experiments with Modern Poetry 15. Conclusion. Appendix – Correlations. Index of Names. Index of Subjects.
Charles W. Valentine (1879-1964) is an important figure in the history of educational psychology. Leaving school at 17 to become a teacher, he continued to study himself at the same time, gaining degrees from London, Cambridge and St. Andrews. He was professor of education at the University of Birmingham in 1919 until his retirement in 1946, then president of the British Psychological Society for 1947-1948. His research covered many areas including child development, imagery, mental testing, home and classroom discipline. Out of print for many years the Collected Works of C.W. Valentine is an opportunity to revisit many of his finest works.