Creative processes of emotional images: the effects of aspect ratio on the emotional and aesthetic properties of images

    Arvydas Kuzinas   Affiliation
    ; Rasa Pilkauskaitė-Valickienė   Affiliation
    ; Mykolas Simas Poškus   Affiliation


Proportions are one of the primary components of successful image composition during the visual art creation process, which, in turn, is determinant of the variety of effects of images on the viewer, including emotional reactions, attention, and aesthetic preference. The importance of image width and height ratio is especially visible in the current trend to adopt the widest possible screens in a variety of modern creative media applications: photo, video, computer games, etc. In the present study emotional and aesthetic evaluations of the three most popular aspect ratios that are used in digital media devices were compared. This was achieved by assessing emotional arousal and valence ratings together with the interest and appeal evaluations of realistic photos presented in 4:3, 16:9, and 21:9 aspect ratios. The results demonstrated that the widest images did not have an inherent advantage – photos presented in the mid-wide aspect ratio of 16:9 could be considered as more effective, because they were rated as evoking the most positive emotional reactions and as the most liked pictures. This demonstrated that single design features can have an independent emotional effect, which needs to be considered in visual design aiming to evoke emotional reactions to the viewer.

Keyword : aesthetics, aspect ratio, composition, creative process, design elements, emotion

How to Cite
Kuzinas, A., Pilkauskaitė-Valickienė, R., & Poškus, M. S. (2024). Creative processes of emotional images: the effects of aspect ratio on the emotional and aesthetic properties of images. Creativity Studies, 17(1), 14–26.
Published in Issue
Jan 12, 2024
Abstract Views
PDF Downloads
Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Aronoff, J., Woike, B. A., & Hyman, L. M. (1992). Which are the stimuli in facial displays of anger and happiness? Configural bases of emotion recognition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62(6), 1050–1066.

Belke, B., Leder, H., Strobach, T., & Carbon, C.-C. (2010). Cognitive fluency: High-Level processing dynamics in art appreciation. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 4(4), 214–222.

Berlyne, D. E. (1972). Ends and means of experimental aesthetics. Canadian Journal of Psychology, 26(4), 303–325.

Brielmann, A. A., & Pelli, D. G. (2019). Intense beauty requires intense pleasure. Frontiers in Psychology, 10.

Briesemeister, B. B., Kuchinke, L., & Jacobs, A. M. (2012). Emotional valence: A bipolar continuum or two independent dimensions? SAGE Open, 2(4).

Codispoti, M., & Cesarei, de A. (2007). Arousal and attention: Picture size and emotional reactions. Psychophysiology, 44(5), 680–686.

Courtney, Ch. G., Dawson, M. E., Schell, A. M., Iyer, A., & Parsons, Th. D. (2010). Better than the real thing: Eliciting fear with moving and static computer-generated stimuli. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 78(2), 107–114.

Cutting, J. E. (2015). The framing of characters in popular movies. Art and Perception, 3, 191–212.

Cutting, J. E. (2006). The mere exposure effect and aesthetic preference. In P. Locher, C. Martindale, & L. Dorfman (Eds.), Foundations and Frontiers in Aesthetics. New directions in aesthetics, creativity, and the arts (pp. 33–46). C. Martindale & A. Berleant (Series Eds.). Baywood Publishing Company, Inc.

Detenber, B. H., & Reeves, B. (1996). A bio-informational theory of emotion: Motion and image size effects on viewers. Journal of Communication, 46(3), 66–84.

Detenber, B. H., Simons, R. F., & Bennett Jr., G. G. (1998). Roll ‘em!: The effects of picture motion on emotional responses. Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, 42(1), 113–127.

Detenber, B. H., Simons, R. F., & Reiss, J. E. (2000). The emotional significance of color in television presentations. Media Psychology, 2(4), 331–355.

Frijda, N. H., & Sundararajan, L. (2007). Emotion refinement: A theory inspired by Chinese poetics. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2(3), 227–241.

Gao, X.-P., & Xin, J. H. (2006). Investigation of human’s emotional responses on colors. Color: Research and Application, 31(5), 411–417.

Gerger, G., Leder, H., & Kremer, A. (2014). Context effects on emotional and aesthetic evaluations of artworks and IAPS pictures. Acta Psychologica, 151, 174–183.

Islam, Md B., Lai-Kuan, W., & Chee-Onn, W. (2017). A survey of aesthetics-driven image recomposition. Multimedia Tools and Applications, 76, 9517–9542.

Kuchinke, L., Trapp, S., Jacobs, A. M., & Leder, H. (2009). Pupillary responses in art appreciation: Effects of aesthetic emotions. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 3(3), 156–163.

Kurdi, B., Lozano, Sh., & Banaji, M. R. (2017). Introducing the open affective standardized image set (OASIS). Behavior Research Methods, 49, 457–470.

Lang, P. J., Bradley, M. M., & Cuthbert, B. N. (2008). International affective picture system (IAPS): Affective ratings of pictures and instruction manual. Technical Report A-8. University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, United States.

Larson, Ch. L., Aronoff, J., & Steuer, E. L. (2012). Simple geometric shapes are implicitly associated with affective value. Motivation and Emotion, 36, 404–413.

Lin, S.-Y., & Chang, H.-I. (2020). Does open-plan office environment support creativity? The mediating role of activated positive mood. Creativity Studies, 13(1), 1–20.

Lombard, M., Reich, R. D., Grabe, M. E., Bracken, Ch. C., & Bolmarcich Ditton, Th. (2000). Presence and television: The role of screen size. Human Communication Research, 26(1), 75–98.

Lundqvist, D., Esteves, F., & Ӧhman, A. (2004). The face of wrath: The role of features and configurations in conveying social threat. Cognition and Emotion, 18(2), 161–182.

Marchewka, A., Żurawski, Ł., Jednoróg, K., & Grabowska, A. (2014). The Nencki affective picture system (NAPS): Introduction to a novel, standardized, wide-range, high-quality, realistic picture database. Behavior Research Methods, 46, 596–610.

McManus, I. Ch., Cook, R., & Hunt, A. (2010). Beyond the golden section and normative aesthetics: Why do individuals differ so much in their aesthetic preferences for rectangles? Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 4(2), 113–126.

McManus, I. Ch., Zhou, F. A., l’Anson, S., Waterfield, L., Stöver, K., & Cook, R. (2011). The psychometrics of photographic cropping: The influence of colour, meaning, and expertise. Perception, 40(3), 332–357.

Menninghaus, W., Wagner, V., Wassiliwizky, E., Schindler, I., Hanich, J., Jacobsen, T., & Koelsch, S. (2019). What are aesthetic emotions? Psychological Review, 126(2), 171–195.

Peirce, J. W. (2009). Generating stimuli for neuroscience using PsychoPy. Frontiers in Neuroinformatics, 2.

Peirce, J., Gray, J. R., Simpson, S., MacAskill, M., Höchenberger, R., Sogo, H., Kastman, E., & Lindeløv, J. K. (2019). PsychoPy2: Experiments in behavior made easy. Behavior Research Methods, 51, 195–203.

Polzella, D. J., Hammar, S. H., & Hinkle, Ch. W. (2005). The effect of color on viewers’ ratings of paintings. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 23(2), 153–163.

Reber, R., Winkielman, P., & Schwarz, N. (1998). Effects of perceptual fluency on affective judgments. Psychological Science, 9(1), 45–48.

Rolls, E. T. (2017). Neurobiological foundations of aesthetics and art. New Ideas in Psychology, 47, 121–135.

Scherer, K. R. (2004). Which emotions can be induced by music? What are the underlying mechanisms? And how can we measure them? Journal of New Music Research, 33(3), 239–251.

Schindler, I., Hosoya, G., Menninghaus, W., Beermann, U., Wagner, V., Eid, M., & Scherer, K. R. (2017). Measuring aesthetic emotions: A review of the literature and a new assessment tool. PloS ONE, 12(6).

Silvia, P. J. (2005). Emotional responses to art: From collation and arousal to cognition and emotion. Review of General Psychology, 9(4), 342–357.

Skorupa, P. (2014). Shocking contents in social and commercial advertising. Creativity Studies, 7(2), 69–81.

Tan, E. S. (2000). Emotion, art and the humanities. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland-Jones (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (pp. 116–136). New York.

Ueda, R., Kuraguchi, K., & Ashida, H. (2016). Asymmetric effect of expression intensity on evaluations of facial attractiveness. SAGE Open, 6(4).

Valdez, P., & Mehrabian, A. (1994). Effects of color on emotions. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 123(4), 394–409.

Vartanian, O., Navarrete, G., Chatterjee, A., Fich, L. B., Leder, H., Modroño, C., Rostrup, N., Skov, M., Corradi, G., & Nadal, M. (2019). Preference for curvilinear contour in interior architectural spaces: Evidence from experts and nonexperts. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 13(1), 110–116.

Winkielman, P., & Cacioppo, J. T. (2001). Mind at ease puts a smile on the face: Psychophysiological evidence that processing facilitation elicits positive affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81(6), 989–1000.

Xenakis, I., Arnellos, A., & Darzentas, J. (2012). The functional role of emotions in aesthetic judgment. New Ideas in Psychology, 30(2), 212–226.

Yu, Q., & Nagai, Y. (2020). A new approach to teaching emotional design. Social Sciences, 9(11).

Zentner, M. R. (2001). Preferences for colours and colour: Emotion combinations in early childhood. Developmental Science, 4(4), 389–398.

Zettl, H. (2011). Wadsworth series. Sight, sound, motion: Applied media aesthetics. Wadsworth Cangage Learning.