Is Beauty in the Eyes of the Beholder? Aesthetic Quality versus Technical Skill in Movement Evaluation of Tai Chi.

Author: Zamparo P1, Zorzi E1, Marcantoni S1, Cesari P1.
1Department of Neurological and Movement Sciences, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.
Conference/Journal: PLoS One.
Date published: 2015 Jun 5
Other: Volume ID: 10 , Issue ID: 6 , Pages: e0128357 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0128357 , Word Count: 197

The aim of this study was to compare experts to naïve practitioners in rating the beauty and the technical quality of a Tai Chi sequence observed in video-clips (of high and middle level performances). Our hypothesis are: i) movement evaluation will correlate with the level of skill expressed in the kinematics of the observed action but ii) only experts will be able to unravel the technical component from the aesthetic component of the observed action. The judgments delivered indicate that both expert and non-expert observers are able to discern a good from a mediocre performance; however, as expected, only experts discriminate the technical from the aesthetic component of the action evaluated and do this independently of the level of skill shown by the model (high or middle level performances). Furthermore, the judgments delivered were strongly related to the kinematic variables measured in the observed model, indicating that observers rely on specific movement kinematics (e.g. movement amplitude, jerk and duration) for action evaluation. These results provide evidence of the complementary functional role of visual and motor action representation in movement evaluation and underline the role of expertise in judging the aesthetic quality of movements.
PMID: 26047473