A study was conducted to determine the value of personality and background variables (e g, emotional responsivity, anxiety, parental memories, art training) as predictors of painting preferences One set of 24 paintings was selected, holding theme (sexual or aggressive) constant while contrasting Idealized (12) with Expressionist (12) styles Another set contrasted paintings on the Representational vs Abstract (12) and Linear vs Painterly (12) stylistic dimensions Contrasting pairs of paintings were presented to 48 subjects who rated preference under two instructional sets (objective interest and subjective pleasing) Questionnaire measures of personality and background were entered into step-wise multiple regression analyses, one for each type of preference and each stimulus contrast (8 altogether) Affective characteristics of the viewer (e g, anxiety, emotional responsivity) and parental memories (e g, of maternal affection or expressivity) predicted subjective preference For example, subjects who remembered their mothers as either expressive or affectionate preferred Idealized versions of sexual and aggressive paintings Artistic training and background emerged only in relation to objective preferences