Empathy, engagement, entrainment: The interaction dynamics of aesthetic experience

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Empathy concerns the feeling of understanding others’ experiences from their perspective, and confronts you with the presence of a qualitative experience that you are not living through yourself. In aesthetics empathy has been conceived as bodily inner imitation. Taking a theoretical, interdisciplinary approach that merges insights from psychology, philosophy, and phenomenology within the dynamic framework, I develop an alternative account of empathy as embodied and enactive, and argue that aesthetic experience is grounded in entrainment and emerges in real time during episodes of emotional and material engagement between viewer and artwork. The interaction dynamics between viewer and artwork is organized relative to the viewer's needs and interests as articulated in response to the aesthetic affordances of the context, and has the form of a motion-emotion loop that promotes continuous evaluation and sense-making.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
  • Arts
  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


  • entrainment, Emotional engagement, aesthetic response, Aesthetic Judgement, Empathy, Dynamic systems, dynamic interplay, Phenomenological experience
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-213
Number of pages13
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue number2
Early online date2017 Apr 8
Publication statusPublished - 2018 May
Publication categoryResearch

Related projects

Ingar Brinck

The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation: Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Science Research


Project: ResearchIndividual research project, Interdisciplinary research

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