Study Reveals Emotional Bonds Formed with AI-Created Art

by | Oct 15, 2023

A recent study by researchers from the University of Vienna has challenged assumptions about art by showing that people can become emotionally attached to computer-generated artwork. The study aimed to determine if individuals would have emotional responses to art they believed was created by a computer. Surprisingly, participants reported stronger emotions and more positive ratings for the artwork when they believed it was made by a human, even though they knew it was computer-generated. These findings raise questions about the relationship between humans and machines in art.

As computers and AI become more integrated into the art world, with AI-generated artworks selling for millions and artists using algorithms to create beautiful pieces, this study highlights the emotional connection that human-made art still maintains with viewers.

To isolate the impact of human versus artificial creation on emotional responses, the researchers purposely avoided using AI or algorithms trained on human-generated images to create computer-generated art.

Participants in the study evaluated the artwork based on various dimensions and indicated the emotions they felt while viewing the pieces. They also identified the emotions they believed the artworks were meant to evoke in viewers and the emotions they believed the artists experienced during the creative process.

The results showed a significant difference in emotional impact between human and artificial art. Participants consistently experienced emotions and perceived intentionality when viewing both types of artwork. However, the emotional intensity was higher when they believed a human was responsible for creating it.

These findings suggest that human-made art has distinct qualities that viewers can more easily recognize, leading to a deeper emotional connection. They also indicate subtle differences in the creative process that set human art apart from computer-generated art.

Theresa Demmer, the lead researcher from the University of Vienna, collaborated with the Humboldt University of Berlin on this groundbreaking study. Demmer explained the findings, saying, “Our research challenges the idea that computer-generated art lacks emotional depth. People can genuinely connect with these artworks, even when they know they were created by a computer.”

The study’s publication in the journal Computer in Human Behavior is a significant step in understanding the intersection of human emotion and AI-generated art. It provides evidence that challenges the belief that only human-made art can evoke powerful emotional responses.

While the study did not explore whether computers can create art indistinguishable from human-made art, it opens up new possibilities for exploring the creative potential of AI. With the increasing role of computers and AI in the art world, questions arise about the future of human-computer interaction and the evolving definition of creativity in art, design, and entertainment.

Further research is needed to unravel the complex relationship between humans and machines in this field. Understanding how individuals emotionally engage with computer-generated art can inform the development of algorithms and AI systems that create art that deeply resonates with viewers.

As the line between human and artificial creations continues to blur, one thing remains clear: the power of art to evoke emotions and connect with audiences goes beyond its origin. The findings of this study challenge our perceptions and urge us to reconsider the role of AI as a creative entity in the ever-changing world of art.