Psychology of Visual Art

PSYC 4403

Course Description

This course will be an appraisal of traditional and contemporary psychophysical and neurobiological models of visual sensation and perception with a focus on various forms of visual art. It will include a study of the human visual system emphasizing its role in the brain and behavior, and it will emphasize the relationship between physical characteristics of environmental stimuli (e.g., wavelength of light) and their associated mechanisms (e.g., visual perception of color). This knowledge will provide a deep understanding into the perceptual and physiological experience of visual art.


PSYC 1101 or PSYC 1101H with a grade of C or higher 

Learning Outcomes

Required Materials

The Psychology of Visual Art: Eye, Brain and Art by George Mather

ISBN: 978-0-521-18479-3 

Assignments & Grades

Activities (10% of overall grade)

Throughout the semester, we will complete in-class and at-home activities and assignments designed to improve understanding and application of concepts. You will get credit for completing these activities. In-class activities cannot be made up; therefore, your consistent attendance is important. At-home activities will be turned in on D2L unless told otherwise.

Exams (50% of overall grade)

There will be four in-class exams covering content from class and readings. These exams will be a combination of multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank. Exams will be proctored using Respondus LockDown Browser on D2L + a webcam. Click here to download the latest version of LockDown Browser. To begin the quiz, go to Quizzes on D2L. Click on the quiz; then click Launch LockDown Browser. The startup sequence will take a couple minutes. You will need to do a webcam check, read some instructions, take a photo of yourself, take a photo of your UNG student ID, complete an environment check, complete a facial detection check, and then take the quiz. The purpose of this startup sequence is explained in the following instructions: “During this quiz, you shouldn't access other resources (a phone, tablet, notes, books, etc.) or communicate with other people. Please stay in your seat and focus on the computer screen until the quiz is complete. If an interruption occurs, briefly explain what happened by speaking directly to your webcam. And, finally, remember that you cannot exit the quiz until all questions are completed and submitted it for grading.” Even though this exam is proctored, you are allowed to use a single 3” x 5” note card with notes per exam. No other resources are allowed during the exam. If you use a note card, you must turn in that note card in the following class. Failure to turn in the note card used during the exam will result in a zero on the exam. (If you do not use a note card, you do not have to turn one in.) You must make your own note card; copying a peer’s note card is not allowed. Exams cannot be made up without documentation from the Dean of Students. Make up exams may be different than in-class exams to ensure equity and prevent cheating.


Research Reflections (20% of overall grade)

In order to deepen your exposure in the vast number of topics covered in this course, you will complete four research reflection papers. Each paper will consist of individual research and personal reflection on a single topic. Research reflections should be submitted on D2L in APA format. Each paper should be a minimum of 750 words of content (i.e., roughly three double spaced pages), not including the required APA formatted title and reference pages. You will need to cite research to support your paper from at least two peer-reviewed sources per paper. You may use the assigned readings.


Final Project (20% of overall grade)

You will attend a live visual art event and provide evidence of your attendance. Then you will write a reflection about it that includes information that ties in all content learned all semester. See D2L for full instructions.

Grade Scale

> 90.0% = A

80.0 - 89.9% = B

70.0 - 79.9% = C

60.0 - 69.9% = D

< 60.0 = F

Schedule Overview


Week 1: Syllabus & Chapter 1

Week 2: Assigned Reading 1

Week 3: Chapter 2 // Reflection 1 due

Week 4: Assigned Reading 2 // Exam 1


Week 5: Chapter 3

Week 6: Assigned Reading 3

Week 7: Chapter 4 // Reflection 2 due

Week 8: Chapter 5 // Exam 2


Week 9: Assigned Reading 4 // Project topic due

Week 10: Reflection 3 due  

Week 11: Chapter 6 // Exam 3


Week 12: Assigned Reading 5

Week 13: Chapter 7

Week 14: Chapter 8 // Reflection 4 due

Week 15: Chapters 9 & 10 // Exam 4


Project paper due