Green C D, 1995, "All that glitters: a review of psychological research on the aesthetics of the golden section" Perception 24(8) 937 – 968
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All that glitters: a review of psychological research on the aesthetics of the golden section
Christopher D Green
Received 10 February 1994, in revised form 20 March 1995
Abstract. Since at least the time of the Ancient Greeks, scholars have argued about whether the golden section - a number approximately equal to 0.618 - holds the key to the secret of beauty. Empirical investigations of the aesthetic properties of the golden section date back to the very origins of scientific psychology itself, the first studies being conducted by Fechner in the 1860s. In this paper historical and contemporary issues are reviewed with regard to the alleged aesthetic properties of the golden section. In the introductory section the most important mathematical occurrences of the golden section are described. As well, brief reference is made to research on natural occurrences of the golden section, and to ancient and medieval knowledge and application of the golden section, primarily in art and architecture. Two major sections then discuss and critically examine empirical studies of the putative aesthetic properties of the golden section dating from the mid-l9th century up to the 1950s, and the empirical work of the last three decades, respectively. It is concluded that there seems to be, in fact, real psychological effects associated with the golden section, but that they are relatively sensitive to careless methodological practices.
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