Have you ever noticed that big tech companies and AI companies collect a lot of information about you?
A new study shows there’s a good reason for this: people like things more when they can see a piece of themselves in them.
This is called “self-relevance”. Basically, it means we enjoy things more when they remind us of our memories, identity, or feelings.
Researchers from institutes in Germany and the Netherlands decided to dig deeper into why people are so attracted to art created by AI and feels personal to them.
With modern technology, programs like DALL-E can create detailed works of art based on individual preferences. This means someone could get a unique piece of art that will remind them of their childhood home or their favorite vacation spot.
So what did these researchers find out? They learned that people love art more when it speaks directly to their personal experiences. To test this, they created a special art project.
Participants in the study filled out a survey about themselves, e.g. For example, where they grew up, what vacations they took and about things that are close to their hearts (e.g. being an advocate for LGBTQ rights or enjoying roller skating).
The researchers then used a special AI tool called “Style Transfer” to create individual artworks for each person based on the information they shared.
As participants viewed the artworks, they liked the pieces made just for them more than the art made for others. That is, if the art contained bits that reminded them of their own lives, they liked it a lot more.
However, the study also revealed that it wasn’t just about seeing art as a reflection of ourselves. Sometimes art can also help us to understand and connect with other people’s experiences.
Edward A. Vessel, the principal investigator, explained that even if an artwork depicts something we are unfamiliar with, we can still relate to it if there is something personal or special about it.
Cem Uran, another researcher, added that while their study used custom-made art for humans, in real life everyone finds their own personal connection to different artworks. They may not even know why they like a particular piece – they just know.
The study showed that it is not just about general rules of art such as an appealing design. The personal connection is also super important.
This understanding is crucial as AI tools create a lot of personalized content these days. Think about it: have you ever seen those superhero pictures of people or stories based on a person’s likes? AI is behind a lot of it!
But there’s a catch. Since we love things that feel personal, there’s a chance that companies will abuse this to keep us engaged with their content. Platforms like TikTok and YouTube already suggest videos based on our preferences.
As AI gets smarter, this trend will only increase and we may not even realize that we are being shown content created just for us.
In short, while it’s amazing that art and technology can touch our hearts by mirroring our own stories, it’s also important to be aware of how personalized content can be leveraged in the online world.
The new study was published in psychological science
follow us on Twitter for more articles on this topic.
Source: Ernst Strüngmann Institute (ESI) for Neurosciences.