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Abstract

We examined the impact of eccentricity on the evaluation of artistic skills and the quality of artworks. Based on the notion that artists are typically perceived as eccentric, creative and skilled, we tested the hypothesis that eccentricity increases perceptions of artistic quality. In Study 1, Van Gogh's Sunflowers painting was evaluated more positively when he was said to have cut off his left ear lobe than when this information was not presented. In Study 2, participants liked art more when the artist was eccentric. In Study 3, the evaluation of fictitious art increased because of the artist's eccentric appearance. Study 4 established that the eccentricity effect was specific to unconventional as opposed to conventional art. In Study 5, Lady Gaga's music was more appreciated when she was displayed as highly eccentric; however, the eccentricity effect emerged only when the display seemed authentic. These novel findings indicate that art evaluations are partly rooted in perceptions of artists' eccentricity and evidence the importance of perceived authenticity and skills for these attributions. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.