The Role of Working Memory Capacity in Evaluative Judgments of Liking and Beauty

Jiajia Che, Xiaolei Sun, Martin Skov, Oshin Vartanian, Jaume Rosselló, Marcos Nadal*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Judgments of liking and beauty appear to be expressions of a common hedonic state, but they differ in how they engage cognitive processes. We hypothesised that beauty judgments place greater demands on limited executive resources than judgments of liking. We tested this hypothesis by asking two groups of participants to judge works of visual art for their beauty or liking while having to remember the location of 1, 3, or 5 dots in a 4 by 4 matrix. We also examined the effect of individual differences in working memory capacity. Our results show that holding information about the location of the dots in working memory delayed judgments of beauty but not of liking. Also, the greater participants’ working memory capacity, the faster they completed the working memory task when judging liking, but not when judging beauty. Our study provides evidence that judging beauty draws more on working memory resources than judging liking.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number7
Pages (from-to)1407-1415
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Published online: 30 Jun 2021.


  • Aesthetic judgment
  • Working memory
  • Working memory capacity
  • Beauty
  • Liking

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