EPÆG is a world-wide network of enthusiastic scientists who aim to advance the empirical knowledge in the fields of ergonomics, psychological aesthetics and design. EPÆG is hosted at the Department of General Psychology and Methodology (head: Professor Claus-Christian Carbon, PhD; deputy head: Sandra Utz, PhD) at the University of Bamberg, Germany.

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Food research

We are interested in how the perception of food is determined by visual characteristics such as color and Gestalt, but also by external factors such as settings and narratives that are provided for information or entertainment. This stream of research further aims to develop methods to understand and enhance the sense and appreciation for high quality and sustainable foods.

Schifferstein, H. N. J., Wehrle, T., & Carbon, C. C. (2019). Consumer expectations for vegetables with typical and atypical colors: The case of carrots. Food Quality and Preference, 72, 98-108, doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2018.10.002 {IF=3.652}


Experience research

What do people experience while they are using an innovative product for the first time, for the second time, for the tenth time? What do people experience while they are standing on the seashore watching the waves and what do they experience while they are standing in a museum watching an artwork that shows the sea? What do people experience while listening to an unacquainted symphony in the concert hall and what do they experience if they have been introduced to some knowledge about this specific music beforehand? … – Understanding experience is one of the key challenges of psychology. In our research, we specifically address user, art,and music experience.

  • Carbon, C. C. (in press). Empirical approaches to capturing Art Experience. Journal of Perceptual Imaging.
  • Muth, C., Raab, M., & Carbon, C. C. (2017). Expecting the unexpected: How gallery-visitors experience Semantic Instability in art. Art & Perception, 5(2), 1-22.
  • Muth, C., Raab, M. H., & Carbon, C. C. (2015). The stream of experience when watching artistic movies. Dynamic aesthetic effects revealed by the Continuous Evaluation Procedure (CEP). Frontiers in Psychology, 6, 365. {IF=2.843}
  • Muth, C., Ebert, S. A., Marković, S. & Carbon, C. C. (2019). ‘Aha’ptics: Enjoying an Aesthetic Aha during haptic exploration. Perception, 48(1), 3-25. {IF=1.371}
  • Weth, K., Raab, M., & Carbon, C. C. (2015). Investigating emotional responses to self-selected sad music via self-report and automated facial analysis. Musicae Scientiae, 19(4), 412-432. {IF=0.809}
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Attractiveness research

What is the magic of an attractive face? Is attractiveness only skin deep? Why is our gaze captured by attractive faces? Why is attractiveness or a certain idea of attractiveness so important for some people that they even hazard the consequences of plastic surgery? And how can perceptual psychology help people escape the superficial beauty contest fueled by publicized so-called ideals? What is “attractiveness” after all? In our research, we address questions related to the construct of attractiveness on different levels and in a variety of domains. Our superordinate goal is to understand how attractiveness is processed and how we are affected by the resulting perceptions and cognitions. This is especially important in a world in which the focus on this topic is strong while critical reflection is often absent so that people lose their freedom to create themselves beside and beyond attractiveness, beauty, prettiness or sexiness. Further reading:

  • Carbon, C. C., Faerber, S. J., Augustin, M. D., Mitterer, B., & Hutzler, F. (2018). First gender, then attractiveness: Indications of gender-specific attractiveness processing via ERP onsets. Neuroscience Letters, 686, 186-192. {IF=2.159} doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2018.09.009
  • Röder, F. & Carbon, C. C. (2015). Average faces: Skin texture more than facial symmetry predicts attractiveness perceptions of female faces. Perception, 44(S1), 25-26.
  • Carbon, C. C., Grüter, T., Grüter, M., Weber, J. E., & Lueschow, A. (2010). Dissociation of facial attractiveness and distinctiveness processing in congenital prosopagnosia. Visual Cognition, 18(5), 641-654. doi: 10.1080/13506280903462471
  • Carbon, C. C. (2017). Universal principles of depicting oneself across the centuries: From Renaissance self-portraits to selfie-photographs. Frontiers in Psychology: Human-Media Interaction, 8(245), 1-9. doi: 10.3389%2Ffpsyg.2017.00245
  • Schneider, T. M., & Carbon, C.-C. (2017). Taking the Perfect Selfie: Investigating the Impact of Perspective on the Perception of Higher Cognitive Variables. Frontiers in Psychology, 8(971). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00971.
  • Schneider, T. M., Hecht, H., & Carbon, C. C. (2012). Judging body weight from faces: The height-weight illusion. Perception, 41(1), 121-124. doi:10.1068/p7140
  • Schneider, T. M., Hecht, H., Stevanov, J., & Carbon, C. C. (2013). Cross-ethnic assessment of body weight and height on the basis of faces. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 356-360. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2013.03.022

ESF-Project “Fit for innovation: Developing creativity and innovativeness in SMEs”

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – from start-ups to traditional family-run enterprises – need ideas to secure their future. Apart from the ability and the motivation to bring up new ideas (creativity) these have to be successfully implemented (innovativeness). In an ESF-funded project psychologists from the Department of General Psychology and Methodology at the University of Bamberg are currently developing a web-based training program to enhance these competencies in SMEs.

Heiligensetzer, S., Schmittlutz, T., & Carbon, C. C. (2018). Creativity and complexity: Creative solutions are more complex but need also more time. Art & Perception, 6(4), 187-187.

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Multimodal Marketing for SMEs: Five senses for the successful presentation of products and services

Wine tasting, buying new clothes, a test drive in a new car or trying out a music instrument—many purchase decisions are based on multisensory assessment. How do we create a multisensory experience of our products and services that reflects our company’s values/brand image consistently? In the ESF-funded project “Multimodal Marketing for SMEs” we sought for answers to this question. Together with thirteen small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a web-based training program was developed to help SMEs create a consistent positive image of their products and services on the basis of recent findings from cross-modal perception, empirical aesthetics, cognitive ergonomics, and marketing psychology.

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Visual Marketing for SMEs: Using basic research on visual perception and marketing psychology for a successful presentation of products and services

How do we improve conciseness and recognition of our products, services or brands by the targeted use of images and visual design elements? How do we find our own Formensprache? In the ESF-funded project “Visual marketing for SMEs” we sought for answers to these questions. Together with five small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a web-based training program was developed to help SMEs create a consistent positive image of their products and services on the basis of recent findings from visual perception, empirical aesthetics, cognitive ergonomics, and marketing psychology.

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E-mobility

Electric Vehicles (EVs) are propagated as an essential solution for reducing the carbon footprint of traffic activities. One essential barrier to the adoption of electromobility strategies in everyday life is the very limited driving range of typical EVs. A dense and reliable network of electric charging stations would enable safer and longer ranges. Modern fast charging technologies provide additional possibilities to tactically and quickly re-charge EVs, but high implementation costs make it necessary to establish a mixed infrastructure consisting of cheap-but-slow and expensive-but-fast charging stations. We utilized the so-called Safe-Range-Inventory (SRI), a multidimensional assessment tool for capturing multi-facets of subjective range safety assessments. Using scenarios with different infrastructure settings, we revealed that the addition of just one fast-charging option drastically lowers range anxiety even under relatively short emergency range conditions. Additional fast-charging options did not have strong positive effects on the assessments but would amass very high costs. The SRI can assist in the planning of electric charging infrastructures in order to find the right balance between range safety and installation and maintenance costs.


Haptics

Research in aesthetics typically focuses on static stimuli or stimulus properties from the visual domain thus ignoring many questions on haptic aesthetics, for instance. We have developed a functional model of haptic aesthetics based on empirical findings and theoretical considerations. This model assumes a continuous increase of elaborative processing through three subsequent processing stages beginning with low-level perceptual analyses that encompass an initial, unspecific exploration of the haptic material. After a subsequent, more elaborate, and specific perceptual assessment of global haptic aspects, the described process enters into deeper cognitive and emotional evaluations involving individual knowledge on the now specified haptic material. The model gives great opportunity to systematically analyze the qualia of aesthetic experiences. Further information:

  • Carbon, C. C., & Jakesch, M. (2013). A model for haptic aesthetic processing and its implications for design. Proceedings of the IEEE, 101(9), 1-11. {IF=6.821}
  • Muth, C., Ebert, S. A., Marković, S. & Carbon, C. C. (2019). ‘Aha’ptics: Enjoying an Aesthetic Aha during haptic exploration. Perception, 48(1), 3-25. {IF=1.371}
  • Jakesch, M., Zachhuber, M., Leder, H., Spingler, M. & Carbon, C. C. (2011). Scenario-based touching. On the influence of top-down processes on tactile and visual appreciation. Research in Engineering Design, 22(3), 143-152. {IF=1.038}
  • Jakesch, M., & Carbon, C. C. (2012). The Mere Exposure effect in the domain of haptics. PLoS One, 7(2), e31215. {IF=4.411}
  • Jakesch, M., Zachhuber, M., Leder, H., Spingler, M. & Carbon, C. C. (2011). Scenario-based touching. On the influence of top-down processes on tactile and visual appreciation. Research in Engineering Design, 22(3), 143-152. {IF=1.038}

Illusions

It may be fun to perceive illusions, but the understanding of how they work is even more stimulating and sustainable: They inform us about the limits but also about the capacity of our perceptual apparatus. Perceptual illusions enable the scientific analysis of cognitive sub-processes that underlie human perception thus opening a door to grasping its specific functioning and power. In this line, our research on perceptual illusions is set out to deepen the understanding of the magic and richness of human perception. Read full text.

  • Carbon, C. C. (2016). The folded paper size illusion: Evidence of inability to perceptually integrate more than one geometrical dimension. i-Perception, 7(4), 1-5. {IF=1.831}
  • Utz, S., & Carbon, C. C. (2016). Is the Thatcher Illusion modulated by face familiarity? Evidence from an eye tracking study. PLoS One, 11(10), e0163933. {IF=3.057}
  • Carbon, C. C. (2014). Understanding human perception by human-made illusions. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8(566), 1-6. {IF=2.906}
  • Schneider, T. M., Hecht, H., & Carbon, C. C. (2012). Judging body-weight from faces: The height-weight illusion. Perception, 41, 121-124. {IF=1.293}
  • Carbon, C. C., Schweinberger, S. R., Kaufmann, J. M., & Leder, H. (2005). The Thatcher illusion seen by the brain: An event-related brain potentials study. Cognitive Brain Research, 24(3), 544-555. {IF=2.568}
  • Raab, M. H., & Carbon, C. C. (2017). The clear-cut water drop: A visual illusion to perceive top-down saccadic fill-in. Perception, 46(S).
  • Utz, S., & Carbon, C. C. (2015). Afterimages are biased by top-down information. Perception, 44(11), 1263-1274. {IF=1.114}
  • Carbon, C. C., Grueter, T., Weber, J. E., & Lueschow, A. (2007). Faces as objects of non-expertise: Processing of Thatcherised faces in congenital prosopagnosia. Perception, 36(11), 1635-1645. {IF=1.585}
  • Carbon, C. C., & Leder, H. (2005). When feature information comes first! Early processing of inverted faces. Perception, 34(9), 1117-1134. {IF=1.585}

Innovation

Appreciation of innovative goods requires the fulfilment of several pre-conditions, e.g., before we can admire an innovative design, we must have elaborated it cognitively. We have developed a variety of techniques to stimulate such elaboration and to be able to validly measure the acceptance of innovation. Moreover, our techniques enable the prediction of future acceptance, which is highly important for all companies and producers that aim to deliver most advanced yet acceptable products. Further reading:

  • Carbon, C. C. (2015). Predicting Preferences for Innovative Design: The “Repeated Evaluation Technique” (RET). GfK Marketing Intelligence Review, 7(2), 34-39. DirectLink GfK
  • Planinc, R., Kampel, M., Ortlieb, S., & Carbon, C. C. (2013). User-centered design and evaluation of an ambient event detector based on a balanced scorecard approach. Journal on Advances in Life Sciences, 5(3&4), 237-249. {IF=to be calculated} PDF
  • Carbon, C. C., Faerber, S. J., Gerger, G., Forster, M., & Leder, H. (2013). Innovation is appreciated when we feel safe: On the situational dependence of the appreciation of innovation. International Journal of Design, 7(2), 43-51. {IF=0.632} PDF

Museum research

Aesthetics research aiming at understanding art experience is an emerging field; however, most research is conducted in labs without access to real artworks, without the social context of a museum and without the presence of other persons. Going beyond the lab context, our research aims to explore art perception in museum contexts and to identify key features of this specific type of perception, mainly how art museum visitors inspect, elaborate and discuss artworks in the field. Further reading:

  • Carbon, C. C. (in press). Empirical approaches to capturing Art Experience. Journal of Perceptual Imaging.
  • Carbon, C. C. (2017). Art perception in the museum: How we spend time and space in art exhibitions. i-Perception, 8(1), 1.15. {IF=1.813} DirectLink i-Perception
  • Muth, C., Raab, M. H., & Carbon, C. C. (2017). Expecting the unexpected: How gallery-visitors experience Semantic Instability in art. Art & Perception, 5(2), 1-22. DOI: 10.1163/22134913-00002062, Art & Perception

Perceived Quality

Perceived quality is the psychological component of product quality. Whereas typical quality approaches focus on objective, physical measures, perceived quality captures the subjective part. As purchase decisions are, in the end, subjective decisions made by individual humans, this psychological view is essential for market success. We have developed a series of techniques and methods that address this issue in an adequate and holistic way. The multisensory perceived quality approach that we follow provides decisive answers to the essential questions: How can we systematically increase perceived quality for first glance as well as elaborated inspections of products?


Mona Lisa entering the 3rd dimension. Can the Mona Lisa be a stereoscopic painting?

In January 2012, the Museo del Prado in Madrid announced an astounding discovery: An almost fully restored copy of the Mona Lisa was rediscovered behind the black overpainting of another copy of the Mona Lisa painting, which hitherto was considered as a rather minor version. The similarity between da Vinci’s original and the Prado version is remarkable. Moreover, infrared analyses unveiled similar corrections in both artworks. It is therefore assumed that a pupil of Leonardo produced the Prado version very possibly alongside the master…

  • Carbon, C. C., & Hesslinger, V. M. (2015). Restoring depth to Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. Was La Gioconda the model for one of the world’s earliest attempts at threedimensional imaging? American Scientist, 103(6), 404-409. {IF=0.556}
  • Carbon, C. C. & Hesslinger, V. M. (2015). On the nature of the background behind Mona Lisa. Leonardo, 48(2), 182-184. {IF=n.a.}
  • Carbon, C. C. & Hesslinger, V. M. (2013). Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa entering the next dimension. Perception, 42(8), 887-893. {IF=1.311}
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The Height-Weight Illusion. Why do we often look fat on unprofessional/unstandardized photos?

People strongly overestimate body weight for faces photographed from a lower vantage point while underestimating it for faces photographed from a higher vantage point.

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‘Aesthetic Aha’: The pleasure of gaining insight

Positive affect can be gained not only by arriving at an insight but by anticipating it as well.

  • Muth, C., Ebert, S. A., Marković, S. & Carbon, C. C. (2019). ‘Aha’ptics: Enjoying an Aesthetic Aha during haptic exploration. Perception, 48(1), 3-25. {IF=1.371}
  • Muth, C., & Carbon, C. C. (2013). The Aesthetic Aha: On the pleasure of having insights into Gestalt. Acta Psychologica, 144(1), 25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2013.05.001
  • Muth, C., Raab, M., & Carbon, C. C. (2015). The stream of experience when watching artistic movies. Dynamic aesthetic effects revealed by the continuous evaluation procedure (CEP). Frontiers in Psychology, 6(365). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.00365
  • Muth, C., Raab, M. H., & Carbon, C. C. (2016). Semantic stability is more pleasurable in unstable episodic contexts. On the relevance of perceptual challenge in art appreciation. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10(43). doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2016.00043
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The appeal of Semantic Instability: Why we can appreciate art even if we do not solve its mysteries

Many artworks defy an easy consumption; still they are able to reach high popularity, but why?

  • Muth, C., Hesslinger, V. M., & Carbon, C. C. (2018). Variants of Semantic Instability (SeIns) in the arts. A classification study based on experiential reports. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 12(1), 11-23. {IF=2.224}
  • Muth, C., & Carbon, C. C. (2016). SeIns: Semantic Instability in Art. Art & Perception, 4(1-2), 145–184. doi: 10.1163/22134913-00002049
  • Muth, C., Hesslinger, V., & Carbon, C. C. (2015). The appeal of challenge in the perception of art: How ambiguity, solvability of ambiguity and the opportunity for insight affect appreciation. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9(3), 206-216. doi: 10.1037/a0038814
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Fluency: Ease of processing amplifies affective judgement

Processing fluency serves as a gratifying explanation for various phenomena, including dynamics in judgements of truth, familiarity, fame, typicality, confidence, and especially liking. Among these dimensions, increasing fluency was found to amplify the reactions or judgements. Meanwhile, it is assumed that processing fluency has a hedonic quality because it indicates the successful and error-free perception, recognition and interpretation of a target. We investigated the assumption of hedonic quality and found fluency rather to be sign of unambiguity.

  • Carbon, C. C., & Albrecht, S. (2016). The Fluency Amplification Model supports the GANE principle of arousal enhancement. Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), 39, 22-23. {IF=20.415}
  • 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. {IF=1.230}
  • Albrecht, S., & Carbon, C. C. (2014). The Fluency Amplification Model: Fluent stimuli show more intense but not evidently more positive evaluations. Acta Psychologica, 148, 195-203.
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