Donnerstag, 11. Oktober 2018, 17:00 - 18:30 iCal

The art of influence

When and why deviant artists gain impact

Talk of Dr. Eftychia Stamkou (University of Amsterdam)

Fakultät für Psychologie, Hörsaal G, 2. Stock (linke Stiege)
Liebigasse 5, 1010 Wien


Some artists rise to fame, while others sink into oblivion. What determines whether artists make an impact? Drawing on theories of deviance, we propose that artists whose work deviates from their own previous style (intrapersonal deviance) and/or other artists’ styles (interpersonal deviance) gain greater impact than non-deviant artists. Given the progressive development of artistic styles from realism to non-realism in the western art history, we expected that deviance will be more effective when it is directed to a progressive style. A preliminary study showed that non-realistic styles are considered more progressive than realistic styles (Study 1). Five more studies (N=993) provide evidence for the effects of each type of deviance on several aspects of artistic impact (perceived influence of the artist, valuation of the artist’s work, and visual attention to the artwork). First, individuals considered artists who deviated from their previous style more impactful than artists who consistently followed a single style (Study 2), effects that were stronger when artists transitioned from a realistic style to a non-realistic one (Study 3). Second, artists who deviated from their contemporaries’ style were considered more impactful than artists who followed the predominant style of their era. These effects were stronger when artists strayed from a predominant realistic style using non-realistic means of expression (Studies 4 and 5). When deviance was stripped from progressiveness and the cultural-historical context was neutralized, deviance enhanced artists’ impact regardless of the direction of deviance (Study 6). Furthermore, perceived willpower mediated the effects of deviance on artistic impact (Studies 4, 5, and 6). Implications of these findings for the creative process as well as for marketing and branding in the realm of art will be discussed.


Institut für Psychologische Grundlagenforschung und Forschungsmethoden (EVA Lab)


Abla Marie-Jose Bedi
Institut für Psychologische Grundlagenforschung und Forschungsmethoden
Allgemeine Psychologie/EVA Lab