Exploring everyday encounters with street art using a multimethod design

Vanessa Mitschke, Juergen Goller, Helmut Leder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

27 Citations (Scopus)


In a combination of an outdoor and a laboratory study, we tested how people encountered sculptures and graffiti in an everyday setting. To accomplish an ecologically valid design, we let 12 participants engage in a free exploration walk at the Danube Canal in Vienna, Austria, equipped with a mobile eye tracker. To further investigate our field measures, we conducted a follow-up laboratory session, in which the participants commented on first-person videos from their own walks. After watching the video, participants rated various views from their walk for aesthetic liking and interest. We found that participants spent up to 50% of the overall fixation time exploring aesthetic objects and artworks. Further, aesthetic liking and interest for certain views predicted gaze behavior during the walk. The free exploration task gave the participants the freedom to interact with the environment and yielded valuable results about the modalities of attention deployment in a real setting. Our study shows that the combination of field and laboratory testing is feasible and can be beneficial for a more ecologically valid study of empirical aesthetics. Furthermore, our findings illustrate the importance of art displays in everyday life and encourage the use of art, supporting the urban art movement and its stance as a public asset.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-283
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Empirical aesthetics
  • Eye tracking
  • Graffiti
  • Multimethod
  • Urban art

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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