Artists and Architects Think Differently Than the Rest Of Us

This information might not be terribly shocking, but according to a new study out of UCL and Bangor University and published in Cognitive Science, artists and architects actually think differently than the rest of us. At least they think differently than the rest of us when it comes to talking about perceptions of space.

"We found that painters, sculptors and architects consistently showed signs of their profession when talking about the spaces we showed them, and all three groups had more elaborate, detailed descriptions than people in unrelated professions," study author Dr Hugo Spiers said.

To research this finding, the researchers had 16 people — all of whom were professional sculptors, painters, or architects — presented with three different images: a Google Street View, a painting of St. Peter's Basilica, and a surreal scene generated by a computer. They then had the individuals describe the environments, how they would change it, and how they would explore it.

What they found was that people described the scenes according to their professions. Painters discussed the space in terms of both 2D and 3D, architects talked about spatial boundaries, and sculptors inhabited language somewhere between the two. And the study authors think that all professions could lead to different understandings and perceptions of space.

"In their day-to-day work, artists and architects have a heightened awareness of their surroundings, which seems to have a deep influence on the way they conceive of space," the study's first author, Claudia Cialone said. "We hope our research will lead to further studies into the spatial cognition of other professionals, which could help devise new ways of understanding, representing and communicating space for ourselves."