A mother and her daughters looking at Mark Rothko paintings in the Philadelphia Museum of Art. (Photo by: Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)
The mind processes abstract art and figurative art very differently, and the experience of viewing one or the other can change the way you think, a new study shows.
Our minds process events and objects differently depending on how psychologically distant we perceive them to be. Near-term events and ideas are riddled with logistical concerns, while distant ones conjure more expressionistic vibes.
For instance, think about a picnic happening tomorrow versus one happening in a year.
“The picnic happening tomorrow will be represented by its concrete features: what to eat, which park to go to,” Daphna Shohamy, an associate professor of psychology at Columbia University and co-author of the study, tells Inverse. “While the picnic happening in one year will be represented by its more abstract features: how much fun you will have with friends.”