Laura Geggel at LiveScience reports that researchers at the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health in Freiburg, Germany, conducted two experiments on “Mona Lisa” viewers. First, they showed participants the original “Mona Lisa” along with eight variations of the painting with the curvature of the mouth altered into happy and sad configurations. Those nine total paintings were shown in random order to participants 30 times, with the volunteers reporting whether the face was happy or sad and their confidence in that judgement. Geggel reports that the 12 participants identified the happy faces more quickly and more accurately than the sad expressions. The original version of the painting was placed in the happy category by the participants close to 100 percent of the time. “We were very surprised to find out that the original ‘Mona Lisa’ is almost always seen as being happy,” Jürgen Kornmeier, lead author of study says in a press release. “That calls the common opinion among art historians into question.”
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