Personality Differences in Perception: The Role of Incongruity Intolerance and Mental Schemata on Aesthetic Preferences


The influence of incongruity intolerance levels on people’s aesthetic preference of three categories of classic and modern artistic paintings was examined. The study uses pictures that trigger in the observer the amodal completion, which involves the application and confirmation of already consolidated mental schemata, or the perceptual contradiction, which highlights their non-confirmation, generating incongruity experience. As in a first preliminary study conducted by Bonaiuto, Biasi, Giannini, & Chiodetti (2001) with advertising images, incongruity intolerance levels were assessed with the Building Inclination Test (BIT). Also in this new study, we apply the BIT tool in order to select sixty young adults, divided into three subgroups: 20 very incongruity intolerant participants, 20 very incongruity tolerant ones, and 20 intermediate participants, both genders equally subdivided. Moreover, we selected eighteen colour laser reproductions of classical and modern artistic paintings on A4 paper sheets: six show the predominant completion phenomena, other six are based on clear incongruous situations and the last six show completion phenomena mixed with incongruity. Each participant individually evaluated each illustration on aesthetic and physiognomic aspects, using 11-point scales. Double-blind experimental conditions were assured. The results show that very incongruity intolerant participants highly aesthetically appreciate the completion pictures, but they do not like the incongruent pictures. Differently the very incongruity tolerant participants are able to appreciate all three types of images presented, and attribute positive aesthetic scores also to the incongruent and thus conflictual pictures. The third group of participants is characterized by intermediate level of incongruity intolerance and obtain intermediate scores. Collected data confirm our research paradigm based on the theoretical model of overloading of conflict, and stress the role of the individual level of intolerance of incongruity in the dynamics of aesthetic preferences. This survey also allows to obtain an effect of generalization of the theoretical model through the empirical verification with different types of images.

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Biasi, V. , Bonaiuto, P. , Patrizi, N. and Levin, J. (2015) Personality Differences in Perception: The Role of Incongruity Intolerance and Mental Schemata on Aesthetic Preferences. Psychology, 6, 1732-1740. doi: 10.4236/psych.2015.613169.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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