My primary research interest at the moment is the field of empirical aesthetics. As a dream-come-true PhD topic, I am especially interested in the question: What makes the experience of beauty special? I try to bridge philosophy, experimental psychology and neuroscience to find an answer to this question. Specifically, we have
I try to bridge philosophy, experimental psychology and neuroscience to find an answer to this question. Specifically, we have tested Kant’s ideas that beauty requires thought (yes, it does) and that sensuous pleasures cannot be beautiful (sorry, they can).
Currently, I am developing a mathematical model that shows how pleasure and beauty are processed. A second project investigates whether we can tell pleasures from simultaneously occurring things apart.
Previous research questions that I have been working on during my Master’s and Bachelor’s, and for which I did get some tentative answers, were:
- When and how does the ability to recognize another person’s need of help develop? What is this ability all about in the end? How is it (not) impaired in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders?
- What emotions does seeing someone else in need of help elicit?
- How do we perceive the gender of a figure that actually does not have any definite gender cues?
- Can monetary reward enhance the accuracy of human eye movements?
- Do we look differently at faces from our own versus another ethnicity?