Effects of Youth Authorship on the Appraisal of Paintings

Eve A. Isham, Arne D. Ekstrom, William P. Banks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Authorship of a painting affects the evaluation of the artwork. In particular, prestigious authorship predicts an evaluation bias in favor of eminent artists. In the recent years, however, the art appreciation movement has focused attention on youth art. This reverse prestige bias effect raises a number of concerns about the virtue of art and the art evaluation bias. In this study, we asked what specific aspects of children's artworks contribute to the accentuated aesthetic response. Recent theories suggest that the final evaluation of aesthetics is emotionally driven. We proposed that youth authorship would elicit a stronger positive emotional response from the viewers than prestige authorship. In 4 experiments, we examined the effects of prestigious authorship and emotional authorship on aesthetic, creativity, and proficiency evaluations. Experiment 1 was a survey of expected qualities of artworks by artists of various backgrounds (e.g., famous artists, youth, or athletes). The results served as baselines for discussion in subsequent experiments. In Experiment 2, participants judged artworks presumably produced by famous artists or children. We predicted higher ratings for youth. In Experiment 3, participants judged artworks presumably produced by famous artists or athletes. Assuming that athletes do not receive the same compassion as children, we predicted the ratings to be higher for the famous artists. To emphasize the role of compassion, participants in Experiment 4 judged artworks presumably produced by privileged or underprivileged youth artists. Inconsistent with the emotional hypothesis, artistic preference was equal in these two groups. Alternative explanations are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-246
Number of pages12
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2010


  • Aesthetics
  • Authorship bias
  • Emotions
  • Youth artist

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Applied Psychology


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