Is viewing a painting really like reading? : an investigation of trans-symbolic comprehension processes
Steciuch, Christian C.
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Humans form mental models of the world around them. A large body of research has outlined these mental processes for comprehending texts, yet less work has been conducted in the world of comprehending artworks. The recent Trans-Symbolic Comprehension (TSC) Framework has posited that there are shared comprehension processes between the domains of text and artwork. The current study tested this claim by having individuals think-aloud while viewing paintings and reading texts. Think-aloud protocols were then parsed and coded for six distinct mental processes that the TSC framework claims are required for comprehension across symbol systems. It was hypothesized that individuals would have profiles of TSC processes across both symbol systems. Coherence-building TSCs were also hypothesized to be related of one's aesthetic experience. No profiles of comprehension emerged significant in the analyses, suggesting that participants do not use similar frequencies of TSC processes for paintings and texts. The coherence-building hypothesis was supported. However, bridging and elaborative inferences predicted the three aesthetic responses differently. Overall, the results provide some support for the TSC framework. Limitations and future avenues of research are also discussed.