Unlocking the mystery of artistic taste

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Doctoral student studies how taste is developed

“Unlike infants, who share innate preferences about shapes and colors, preschoolers already differ in their artistic tastes,” says Kim Sheridan, a doctoral student at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Using cognitive development, developmental psychology, art, brain-imaging technology, and education, Sheridan is now trying to unlock the mystery of artistic taste. A year in Kenya convinced her that this was a research project worth pursuing. “What fascinated me was that I was living in a very different culture, and yet I could communicate through visual art,” she says. “That’s when I got the idea that there are basic human processes involved in creating art, but also huge cultural differences in how art is expressed.”