• Pia M. Vinken Institute of Sport Science, Georg-August-University Göttingen, Germany
  • Thomas Heinen Faculty of Sport Science, Leipzig University, Germany



artistic sports, stick-figure video sequences, two-alternative forced choice task, motion perception, performing arts


Research on (empirical) aesthetics investigates properties and features of objects, the resulting response-mechanisms to such objects in the observer, and the interplay between factors of the object and the observer in a given context. This study focuses on object-related factors, such as biological motion. The question is addressed of whether there are perceived aesthetic features differentiating between complex artistic skills ranked most and least aesthetic by experienced observers. Therefore, 18 participants with dance experience were asked to evaluate the perceived aesthetics of stick-figure video sequences of three different complex motor skills, namely dance jumps, poses, and turns. As a result, three specific aesthetic features are pointed out as aesthetic fundamentals in the perception and evaluation of aesthetic sports and performing arts: 1) an outwards direction away from the dancers longitudinal axis and body center, 2) a focus on external rotation of the limbs (turn-out), and 3) a (diagonal) spread of body movements creating the impression of elongating the dancer’s body. In particular, aesthetic features that demand the performer’s ability and challenge physical laws seem to be robust parameters when aiming to create aesthetic motion stimuli. Concluding, a skill-specificity for aesthetic features, as well as the need to differentiate between the interaction of different aesthetic features, is pointed out – aspects which seem especially apparent in biological motion stimuli.


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