Perceptual Fluency Effects in Judgments of Creativity and Beauty: Creative Objects Are Perceived Fluently Yet They Are Visually Complex

Bo Christensen, Linden J. Ball, Rolf Reber

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Perceptual fluency typically has a positive influence on aesthetic evaluations of beauty, but few studies have examined its influence on creativity evaluations. Creativity has two facets, originality and quality. If creativity judgments involve estimating product originality, such judgments may be associated with perceptual disfluency, while product quality may be associated with perceptual fluency. We examined the relationship between perceptual fluency and judgments of creativity and beauty across seven experiments. Creativity judgments were affected by most perceptual fluencysources. We observed a highly-fluent-is-beautiful-and-creative relation when testing repeated exposure and figure-ground contrast. Prototypicality displayed a high-fluency–is-beautiful relation, with creativity judgments unaffected. Visual complexity displayed a consistent disfluent-is-creative effect, with mixed results for beauty. For creativity (but not beauty) evaluations, increased saliency of visual complexity led to discounting fluent-is-creative effects, supporting the hypothesis that there are at least two fluency pathways to creativity judgments that take both originality and quality into account.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)45-66
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Published online: 12. November 2019


  • Perceptual fluency
  • Evaluation
  • Judgment
  • Creativity
  • Beauty

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