Time to let go? No automatic aesthetic preference for the golden ratio in art pictures

Stefan Stieger*, Viren Swami

*Corresponding author for this work

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

5 Citations (Scopus)


The golden ratio is a frequently studied topic in many scientific disciplines, and, in psychology, it has been proposed as being a (universal) law governing aesthetic preferences. Empirical evidence for the golden ratio is equivocal and typically demonstrated through explicit (i.e., conscious, deliberate) evaluations using direct measurement methods (e.g., surveys). Here, we examined whether the golden ratio reflects an automatically elicited preference using the Implicit Association Test. We used real art images, with the foreground object presented in the golden ratio as well as either in the center (Studies 1 and 2) or 3/4 ratio (Study 3). Both explicit and implicit evaluations did not reveal a clear preference for the golden ratio over other ratios. A possible preference for the golden ratio does not seem to be automatically elicited and may, rather, be driven by art expertise. This again calls into dispute the universality of a preference for the golden ratio.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-100
Number of pages10
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 01 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Aesthetics
  • Art expertise
  • Golden ratio
  • Implicit association test
  • Implicit evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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