Men and women judge art differently

Men and women evaluate art differently, researchers found. While women focus more on the art itself, men tend to pay more attention to the artist’s authenticity and background.

The authors, who published their findings in the journal Psychology & Marketing, say theirs is the first study to examine the importance of an artist’s ‘brand’ when average consumers are appraising his or her art.

Personal brand appears to be more important than people in the business had realized, a finding that in the $64 billion art market has significant implications, as well as other product industries such as fashion and food, the researchers say.

Co-author, Stephanie Mangus, assistant professor in Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business, said:

“All consumers in the study, but especially men, evaluated art with a strong emphasis on how motivated and passionate the artist was. So if you’re an artist or if you’re managing an artist, developing that human brand – getting the message across that you’re authentic – becomes essential.”

Stephanie Mangus

(Stephanie Mangus. Photo: Michigan State University)

Ms. Mangus and colleagues asked 518 men and women to look at two unfamiliar paintings with fictionalized biographies of the artist.

Some participants read a biography that showed that the artist was a lifelong painter who creates unique paintings, i.e. an authentic artist. Others read a bio characterizing the artist as an ordinary painter who only recently took up the craft.

Paintings and their artists received significantly more favorable impressions when the bio characterized the artist as ‘authentic’. Participants showed they were more willing to buy that artist’s painting, and also pay more for it.

Men driven more by ‘brand’ then women

When evaluating art, the researchers found that men were much more likely to be influenced by the artist’s brand.

While also taking into account the artist’s authenticity, women were more influenced by the artwork itself.

Ms. Mangus said:

“Women are more willing to go through a complicated process of actually evaluating the artwork, whereas men may say, ‘This guy’s a great artist, so I’ll buy his art.’”

Even though the art market has grown considerably over the last ten years, and dispite outperforming equities since 2004, not much is known about what drives consumers’ decisions when deciding which artwork to buy and how much they are willing to pay, the researchers say.

If dealers know that an artist’s brand is an important factor in consumers’ evaluations, they will be able to set prices more accurately. The team members also believe their findings could help consumers make decisions on which art they buy.

Ms. Mangus said:

“For the average person trying to purchase art, knowing something about the artist – and knowing that the artist is authentic – can reduce the risk of buying a worthless piece.”

The study’s findings could probably be extended to other sectors where the creator is highly involved and visible, such as the food, restaurant, jewelry, footwear and clothing industries.

The authors wrote:

“While designers and chefs oftentimes operate in the background, this research suggests that more emphatically communicating their passion and commitment to their craft could significantly benefit that brand’s image and sales.”

Artist Authenticity: How Artists’ Passion and Commitment Shape Consumers’ Perceptions and Behavioral Intentions across Genders.” Written by Julie Guidry Moulard,Dan Hamilton Rice, Carolyn Popp Garrity and Stephanie M. Mangus. Psychology & Marketing, DOI: 10.1002/mar.20719.

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