Michigan (MOL): The sexes have very different reactions when they look at art, researchers have found. They say that in fact, women appreciate art far more. Men on the other hand, focus more on the artist’s background and authenticity. The Michigan State University study, which appears in the journal Psychology & Marketing, is the first to investigate how important an artist’s ‘brand’ is to average consumers when they appraise art. The research could have major implications for the $64 billion art market and other product industries such as food and fashion. ‘All consumers in the study, but especially men, evaluated art with a strong emphasis on how motivated and passionate the artist was,’ said Stephanie Mangus, who led the research. ‘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.’ Mangus and her fellow researchers had 518 people look at two unfamiliar paintings with made-up biographies of the artist. 

Some participants read a bio that characterized the artist as authentic - in other words, a lifelong painter who creates unique work. Others read a bio that characterized the artist as an ordinary painter who took up the craft only recently. When the artist was characterized as authentic, participants had a much more favorable impression of both the artist and the artwork.  Participants indicated they were more willing to buy that artist’s painting and to pay a higher price for it. Men were much more likely to use the artist’s brand as a deciding factor when evaluating art. Mangus said this jibes with past research that indicates men tend to use factors that are known to them (in this case, the artist’s brand) when making a decision. Women also took the artist’s authenticity into account, but a bigger factor for them was the artwork itself. ‘Women are more willing to go through a complicated process of actually evaluating the artwork,’ Mangus said, ‘whereas men may say, ‘This guy’s a great artist, so I’ll buy his art.’’ While the art market has grown steadily for the past 10 years - outperforming the equities market during that time - there’s a dearth of research on how consumers are actually determining the worth of artwork, Mangus said.MOL