What’s in a Name?

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet?

 This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, for abstract art, maybe the meaning is in the name? Does the title of a piece influence how we feel about it?

Jennifer Stoltz at the University of Waterloo in Canada wondered. She and colleagues showed abstract paintings to over eight hundred participants. The scientists gave them computer-generated titles designed to be either bland or pretentious. Example:  “Canvas Number Eight.” Boring!! But a pseudo-profound name like the “The Deaf Echo”? Definitely trying too hard! 

The subjects consistently rated the paintings with flowery titles as more “meaningful.” Stoltz and her team think that these types of handles help viewers make sense of the art. Or at least, convince them that the artist had something deep in mind.

The researchers say this study shows just how malleable human perception is. 

As if picking a name for the dog isn’t stressful enough! Jackson Pollack…. or Dog Number Eight?