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All That Glitters: A Review of Psychological Research on the Aesthetics of the Golden Section

Green, Christopher D. (1995) All That Glitters: A Review of Psychological Research on the Aesthetics of the Golden Section. Perception 24:pp. 937-968.

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Abstract

Since at least the time of the Ancient Greeks, scholars have argued about whether the golden section -- a number approximately equal to 0.618 -- holds the key to the secret of beauty. Empirical investigations of the aesthetic properties of the golden section date back to the very origins of scientific psychology itself, the first studies being conducted by Fechner in the 1860s. This paper reviews both historical and contemporary issues with regard to the alleged aesthetic properties of the golden section. An introductory section (1) describes the most important mathematical occurrences of the golden section. As well, brief reference is made to research on natural occurrences of the golden section, and to Ancient and Medieval knowledge and application of the golden section, primarily in art and architecture. Major sections following the introduction discuss and critically examine (2) empirical studies of the putative aesthetic properties of the golden section dating from the mid-19th century up to the 1950s, and (3) the empirical work of the last three decades. It is concluded that there seems to be, in fact, real psychological effects associated with the golden section, but that they are relatively sensitive to careless methodological practices.

EPrint Type:Journal (Paginated)
Keywords:golden section, aesthetics, perception
Subjects:Chronology > 19th Century
Chronology > 20th Century
Geography > Europe
Geography > North America
History > Intellectual
Psychology > Aesthetics
Psychology > Perception/Psychophysics
ID Code:3
Deposited By:Green, Christopher D.
Deposited On:29 May 2001
Alternative Locations:http://www.yorku.ca/christo/papers/goldrev3.htm