To be published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (in press)

© Cambridge University Press 2012


Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Call for Commentary Proposals


The Artful Mind Meets Art History: Toward a Psycho-Historical Framework for the Science of Art Appreciation

Nicolas J. Bullot and Rolf Reber

Deadline for Commentary Proposals: March 21, 2012


If this target article interests you as a possible subject for commentary, please download the full pre-print to see if you would like to propose a commentary. If you are interested please follow the instructions below the target article information. Please keep in mind that we are not asking you to submit a commentary -- but rather, a short proposal in order to be considered as an invited author after the proposal deadline. The instructions below are also in the Call letter you may have received.


Abstract: Research seeking a scientific foundation for the theory of art appreciation has raised controversies at the intersection of the social and cognitive sciences. Though equally relevant to a scientific inquiry into art appreciation, psychological and historical approaches to art developed independently and lack a common core of theoretical principles. Historicists argue that psychological and brain sciences ignore the fact that artworks are artifacts produced and appreciated in the context of unique historical situations and artistic intentions. After revealing flaws in the psychological approach, we introduce a psycho-historical framework for the science of art appreciation. This framework demonstrates that a science of art appreciation must investigate how appreciators process causal and historical information to classify and explain their psychological responses to art. Expanding on research about the cognition of artifacts, we identify three modes of appreciation: basic exposure to an artwork, the artistic design stance, and artistic understanding. The artistic design stance, a requisite for artistic understanding, is an attitude whereby appreciators develop their sensitivity to art-historical contexts by means of inquiries into the making, authorship, and functions of artworks. We defend and illustrate the psycho-historical framework with an analysis of existing studies on art appreciation in empirical aesthetics. Finally, we argue that the fluency theory of aesthetic pleasure can be amended to meet the requirements of the framework. We conclude that scientists can tackle fundamental questions about the nature and appreciation of art within the psycho-historical framework.


Keywords: Art appreciation; causal reasoning; cognitive tracking; cognition of artifacts; design stance; essentialism; function; history of art; mindreading; processing fluency; psycho-historical framework

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About Commentary Proposals: When a target article or recent book has been accepted for BBS Commentary, the editorial office sends out the Call for Commentary Proposals to thousands of people. Commentary Proposals help the BBS Editors craft a well-balanced commentary invitation list.


New Commentary Proposal Submission Instructions


In order to nominate yourself for commentary invitation, follow the instructions below and submit a Commentary Proposal via the BBS Editorial Manager site:


You may also find these instructions available in PDF form at


If you have received the Call for Commentary Proposals, your username and password should have been included inside the email.  At the Editorial Manager (EM) site you can register a new user account, update your existing information, or retrieve your username and password.


Information on recently accepted target articles or books that are currently open for Commentary Proposal submission are available at





1. What aspect of the target article or book you would anticipate commenting on.


2. The relevant expertise you would bring to bear on the target article or book.+


+Including your relevant expertise saves the Editors valuable time when evaluating proposals. If one of these requirements is missing, your proposal will be returned for resubmission.


Please include names and affiliations of your potential co-authors if applicable.



Suggesting Commentators and Nominating BBS Associates:


To suggest others as possible Commentators, or to nominate others for BBS Associateship status, please email





1. Log-in as Author


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If you do not have an account, please visit the site and register.  You can also submit a request for missing username and password information if you have an existing account.


2. Submit New Manuscript


Within your author main menu please select Submit New Manuscript.


3. Select Article Type


Choose the article type of your manuscript from the pull-down menu.  Commentary Proposal article types are temporarily created for each accepted target article or book.  Only select the Commentary Proposal article type that you wish to submit a proposal on.  For example: "Commentary Proposal (Bullot)"

4. Enter Title


Please title your proposal submission by indicating the relevant first author name of the target article or book.  For example: "Commentary Proposal on Bullot"


5. Co-Authors


Commentary Proposal submissions are limited to a single author.  However, if you are proposing to write a commentary with co-authors -- please list their names, affiliations and email addresses in the body of your Commentary Proposal document.


6. Attach File


The only required submission Item is your Commentary Proposal in MSWord or RTF format.  In the Description field please add the first author name of the target article or book.  For example: "Commentary Proposal on Bullot"


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8. Editorial Office Decision


At the conclusion of the Commentary Proposal period, the editors will review all the submitted Commentary Proposals.  An undetermined number of Commentary Proposals will be approved and those author names will be added to the final commentary invitation list.  At that time you will be notified of the decision.  If you are formally invited to submit a commentary, you will be asked to confirm your intention to submit by the commentary deadline.


Note: Before the commentary invitations are sent, the copy-edited and revised target article will be posted for invitees.  In the case of Multiple Book Review, invitees will be sent a copy of the book to be commented upon if requested.  With Multiple Book Reviews, it is the book, not the Précis article that is the target of commentary.


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