Home | Search Serendip
Serendip

What is "beauty"?

Now there's an interesting question. Its the sort of simple question that probably occurs to most people at one time or another and then ...

Maybe you've thought about it a bit, and asked some other people what they think, and that helped you think about it ... but also made it seem a more difficult problem than you first thought it was? Maybe you've even done some reading, and that helped too ... but also made it seem an even more difficult problem? And so you've sort of filed it under "interesting but ..." and decided ... that's not an answerable question.

Maybe "what is 'beauty?' isn't in fact an answerable question, but maybe we could break it down into some more answerable questions, and perhaps that way we could at least understand the original question better? Here are a couple that come to mind:

Let's see whether some new observations help ...

One might think one "knows" the answer to questions like those above, or at least that someone else does, but it often turns out that actually making some observations oneself helps one to see the question differently. And making them in a way that other people can see them too helps in comparing how one thinks about things with how others think about them. So, let's take a crack at it. Let's do some "research" together and see what we learn from it.

To begin, briefly describe your background ...

The idea here is to ask the same questions of lots of different people, and see how similar or different the answers are. To learn anything from the answers, one needs to have a sense of how similar or different the people are whose answers one is comparing. So please fill in answers to the following questions, and then click "Submit". This information will be stored and will help us describe the diversity of the population being sampled, but won't be associated with your name or reported in association with your responses in the following section.

Age:

Primary activity/occupation:
(student, middle school teacher, college biology professor, mechanic, etc)

Cultural Affiliation: If other, please specify:
(white, black, hispanic, jewish, multiethnic, etc)

Gender:

Sexual Orientation:

Group Name:
Leave the default "general" unless you are using this exhibit for a new study in which case the study organizer will give you a name to enter here).

How often do you think about "beauty" in relation to yourself, things you make, people and things around you:

Now, look at some pictures and record your reactions to them ...

For each picture of about thirty that you'll see one at a time, you will be asked to rank that picture on a scale from very beautiful to not very beautiful, and to rank it on several other scales as well. Don't spend a lot of time on any particular picture, or on thinking about your rankings. And don't worry about comparing the pictures one to another. At the end you'll get to see all the pictures at once and be asked to say which ones you find most beautiful and which ones least beautiful. Ready?





| Forum | Local Resources | Serendip Home |

Send us your comments at Serendip

© by Serendip 1994-2007 - Last Modified: Monday, 05-Nov-2007 06:59:33 EST