The embodiment of beauty: Evidence from viewing Chinese concrete words and pictographs

Wei Zhang, Xianyou He, Xueru Zhao, Siyan Lai, Shuxian Lai, Suiyan Situ
Published Online:
01 Apr 2016
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 53 Issue 1

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How is beauty embodied? According to the viewpoint of embodied cognition, the aesthetic processing of words or pictographs has roots in their referential archetypes. Four experiments tested whether the beauty of referential archetypes was routinely activated during the explicit and implicit aesthetic evaluations of the font structures of concrete Chinese words and pictographs in congruent or incongruent font colour. Results showed font structures of simplified Chinese words and pictographs were judged to be more beautiful when they referred to beautiful archetypes; and this pattern was reversed when they referred to ugly archetypes. Moreover, judgement was facilitated when font colour was congruent for Chinese words and pictographs referred to beautiful archetypes. For those referred to ugly archetypes, judgement was inhibited in congruent font colour but facilitated in incongruent font colour, suggesting aesthetic perceptions of the font structures of Chinese words and pictographs were derived from their referential natural objects. The spontaneous generation hypothesis of beauty is proposed to account for these findings.

© 2016 International Union of Psychological Science