Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya • ISSN 2075-7999
peer-reviewed • open access journal


2019 Vol. 12 Issue 63

Pyankova S.D. Subjective estimates of visual complexity and aesthetical appeal of fractal images: individual differences and genetic influences

Full text in Russian: Пьянкова С.Д. Субъективные оценки визуальной сложности и  эстетической привлекательности фрактальных изображений: индивидуальные различия  и генетические влияния

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

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According to a number of studies, fractal dimension is the source of variability for subjective estimates of visual complexity and aesthetic appeal of self-similar objects. This study focuses on the analysis of individual differences in visual perception of flat fractal stimuli. We expect to find stable individual differences in subjective estimates of visual complexity. We also expect to find genetic influence on aesthetic preferences in perception of visual fractal stimuli. The bank of stimuli was created using Xaos.exe fractal generator (Freeware). We used 20 stimuli of different fractal dimensions (from 1.086 to 1.751). The participants (N = 299) ranked visual fractal stimuli: group 1 – by subjective complexity (n = 175, aged 18–36, M = 21.9, SD = 3.29; some participants were retested, n = 55); group 2 – by aesthetical appeal (n = 124, aged 17–32, M = 19, SD = 1.45). The genotypes for MAOA and DRD2 gene polymorphisms were determined in group 2. The results confirm the study hypotheses: subjective estimates of visual complexity correlate with fractal dimension and replicate in repetitive testing; we found the influence of MAOA and DRD2 genes polymorphisms on aesthetic preferences in visual perception of fractal images (such facts were established for the first time). Introducing the psychological construct «sensitivity to fractal dimension» seems to be reasonable in view of perspective studies of individual differences in perception of visual fractal objects.

Keywords: fractal dimension, visual complexity, aesthetic preferences, individual differences, MAOA gene, DRD2 gene


Author thanks Victoriya Scobeyeva, Yulia Chertkova and Ekaterina Chertkova (Lomonosov Moscow State University) for analysis of genetic typology of the test subjects and their comments. Special thanks Timur Chernov (Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology) for his active assistance during the experiment.


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Received 9 September 2018. Date of publication: 28 February 2019.

About author

Pyankova Svetlana D. Ph.D., Department of Behavioral Genetics, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, ul. Mokhovaya, 11, str. 9, 125009 Moscow, Russia.
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Pyankova S.D. Subjective estimates of visual complexity and aesthetical appeal of fractal images: individual differences and genetic influences. Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya, 2018, Vol. 12, No. 63, p. 12. (in Russian, abstr. in English).

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