How Art And Psychology Are Related Essay


Neuroscience Art is processed in the brain, and neuropsychological principles show how. One of the prime examples showing the way art influences the brain is with the Mona Lisa. Da Vinci's painting is notable for the peculiar and ambiguous smile on the subject's face. There is "dynamism" in the smile, artist understood this and deliberately make optical illusion of sorts (Chakravarty 69). The illusion is a product of "imaginative thinking which involves frontal cortical activation in the viewer's brain coupled with activation of the motion area (area V5/MT) of the viewer's visual cortex," (Chakravarty 69). Thus, some viewers may perceive La Gioconda as smiling, and others may not.

Evolutionary Psychology

Cave art proves that creative expression has always been a part of human history. As Dutton points out, the ancient Greeks were the first to recognize that art had a distinct psychological component. Art has functioned differently in different cultures and throughout time. An evolutionary psychology perspective discusses art both in terms of how the form and function of art itself has changed, and also in terms of how individual human beings relate to art throughout the course of their own lives. Art has functioned as emotional expression as well as political communication, and art has demarcated social class too.

To apply evolutionary psychology to the visual arts, it would be ideal to study one artist's work throughout the life period. For example, Picasso had a long and prolific career that highlights the principles of evolutionary psychology. Early Picasso work reflects the artist's formal career, as his portraiture was realistic in nature. The way Picasso portrays women in his portraits can also be used as...


The following two paintings of women are as diametrically opposed in style as to appear to be done by two different artists. Therefore, these two paintings show how Picasso's style evolved, and perhaps also how social norms and perceptions of women evolved during the artist's lifetime:
Behavior Genetics

Like evolutionary psychology, behavior genetics considers the role of biology in the creation and appreciation of art. Behavior genetics can help separate the variables of nature versus nurture, especially in studies involving identical twins raised separately ("Behavior Genetics"). One way of applying behavior genetics to art is to compare the artistic creations of identical twins raised separately. Given the small population of identical twins raised separately, it might be possible to draw some conclusions about the role genetics play in art via the study of identical twins raised in the same household, in which one twin or the other becomes an artist. Identical twin artists Amrit and Rabindra Singh create work that can be analyzed in terms of behavior genetics. In fact, the artists include their own twin self-portraits in the image to underscore the role that genetics has played in their respective art-seeking behaviors.


Jung and Freud both involved art into their work, but Jung became far more focused on the function of art for revealing the contents of the subconscious mind. Concerned with symbolism and archetypes, Jung used art to help guide clients. Contrary to Freud's brand of psychoanalysis, Jung adopted a more positive approach that discouraged reductionism or pathologizing…

Sources Used in Documents:

Works Cited

"Behavior Genetics." Retrieved online:

Chakravarty, Ambar. "Mona Lisa's Smile." Medical Hypotheses. Vol. 75, No. 1, July 2010, pp. 69-72.

Dutton, Dennis. "Aesthetics and Evolutionary Psychology." The Oxford Handbook for Aesthetics, edited by Jerrold Levinson (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003). Retrieved online:

Gallese, Vittorio. "Mirror Neurons and Art." Chapter 22. Retrieved online:
"It's About Time: The Evolution of Pablo Picasso's Portraits of Women." Jan 2012. Retrieved online:
Wojtkowski, Sylvester. "Jung's 'Art Complex.'" Retrieved online:

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