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  1. Lisa F. Smith,
  2. Jeffrey K. Smith

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0023

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Smith, L. F. and Smith, J. K. 2010. Aesthetics. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. University of Otago, New Zealand

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


Aesthetics is the study of how human beings react in sensory and emotional fashion to the things we encounter in life, especially as being appealing or not appealing. Is a person beautiful? Is this dessert delicious? Is that work of art particularly moving? Researchers who study taste or beauty in humans are engaged in work in aesthetics, but in recent years the field has focused more on how people react to works of art, broadly defined (fine arts, music, architecture, film, and so on). Although the field evolved from and still has close ties to philosophy, aesthetics from the perspective of how people actually perceive and react to works of art can be seen as a logical branch of the study of psychology. This is sometimes referred to as the psychology of aesthetics or empirical aesthetics, to differentiate it from its philosophical cousin. This line is not always clear, however, and some scholars, notably Dewey, move with facility between philosophy and psychology. Aesthetics can be contrasted to the related term, art, in that aesthetics concerns the reception of stimuli rather than their production.