Towards a unified model of aesthetic pleasure in design

Michaël Berghman, Paul Hekkert*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


In this study we test the Unified Model of Aesthetics (Hekkert, 2014), which posits that the aesthetic sense has evolved to identify and value prospects for safety and accomplishment. The principles of unity-in-variety, most-advanced-yet-acceptable and autonomous-yet-connected are considered manifestations of these conflicting urges at separate levels of stimulus processing. We empirically integrate these principles to gauge their unique contribution to the aesthetic experience, using two distinct surveys (study 1-300 respondents and 20 stimuli, study 2-60 respondents and 24 stimuli). Both surveys confirm the three principles constituting the Unified Model of Aesthetics. The principles are found to operate independently and jointly, although unity-in-variety has the strongest impact on aesthetic pleasure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-144
Number of pages9
JournalNew Ideas in Psychology
Issue numberDecember
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • MAYA
  • Product design aesthetics
  • Safety and accomplishment needs
  • Unity-in-variety


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