How our preferences are formed and whether good taste really exists

What makes things attractive

Some researchers, such as University of California professor Vileyanur Ramachandran, believe that there are universal parameters of beauty. They evolved to help people respond more effectively to the outside world. Here are the main ones.

Compatibility

Imagine a tiger in the bush. All you will see are rare yellow streaks in the foliage. But centuries of evolution will help your brain to group disparate elements into a single picture: some object is hiding in the trees, you need to be on your guard. Like our ancestors, we pay attention to the matching details that help us to present the subject as something whole . This is why people like the color of the tie to match the suit.

Symmetry

This is another important sign that our eyes cling to. The vast majority of biological objects are symmetrical. Of course, we are not talking about a complete coincidence, but about recurring elements: a person is likely to have two ears, not one. In turn, a clear asymmetry often speaks of a disease. Perhaps that is why we are so fascinated by repetitive harmonious forms.

One of the most striking examples of symmetry in art is the Taj Mahal mausoleum in India. Photo: Yann; edited by Jim Carter / Wikimedia Commons

Brightness of signs

The more expressively a feature is reflected in a work of art, the greater the response it will evoke in us. This is also connected with behavioral reactions: everything is clearer and brighter. A caricature or figurine with exaggerated forms will evoke a much more vivid sense of funny or sexy than a real photo.

Simplicity

The resources of our attention are limited, so we perceive simpler and more understandable objects better. In them, the eye easily captures the essence, without being distracted by colors, backgrounds and other details. Therefore, for example, a sketch often seems more attractive and understandable than a complex and vibrant 3D photograph.

What shapes tastes

Initially, all children are guided by universal parameters, and only then their ideas about beauty develop under the influence of the environment and society as a whole.

Memories and knowledge

If a person studies works of art, such as reading about them or listening to lectures, the recognition effect may work. Familiar pictures or music will trigger memories, and if the latter turn out to be positive, this will cause a feeling of belonging to something great and beautiful.

social status

Sociologist and philosopher Pierre Bourdieu believed that a person’s taste is influenced by his belonging to a social class. It forms in people certain values associated with their profession, interests and capabilities. Therefore, for example, according to Bourdieu, workers prefer realism to abstract art: for them, authentic paintings are much more attractive than cubes or black canvases.

Elite Influence

A British statistical study showed that 96% of London’s creative intelligentsia come from financially well off families. And this is not only happening in the UK. It is these artists, artists and writers who shape our understanding of the “reference” taste through lectures, critical articles, films and books. And the fact that such people are usually rich and successful makes their views even more popular.

Cultural stereotypes

So, rock music and rap are often called “teenage”, and classical and jazz – “retired”. A person who watches films about superheroes in adulthood can be considered infantile and frivolous. Such opinions often cause people to change their preferences or hide them.

Does “good taste” exist?

No. This concept is fickle and highly dependent on society, stereotypes, and even economic and political conditions. Things that people consider beautiful in one era turn into a sample of bad taste in the next. For example, excessive luxury may seem ridiculous and ridiculous to some, but others will perceive it as an ideal of beauty.

Dividing tastes into “good” and “bad”, we seem to deny ourselves and other people the right to individuality. Because of this, we can even censor our own preferences. For example, to feel a sense of shame because they spent the evening watching a “stupid” sitcom, watched to holes.

But there is really no shame in watching a few episodes of a sitcom or a couple of romantic comedies instead of an intellectual but boring five-hour movie. It is much more important to have fun than to try to live up to other people’s expectations. The main thing is that you like the book, film or picture, and not someone else.

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