New research: How beautified images affect perceptions of the coronavirus

Researchers found the more beautiful the images were perceived as being, the less educational they seemed to spectators.

A new study argues that black and white images of SARS-CoV-2 make the virus seem more infectious, while colour and three-dimensional images in the media have favoured the perception of the virus as a beautiful, but not quite realistic or contagious.

The study by the Instituto de Radio Televisión Española and the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (UAB), conducted during the lockdown, has been published on PLoS ONE.

Researchers presented different images of SARS-CoV-2 before participants, who were asked about parameters such as beauty, scientific nature, realism, perception of infectiousness, fear, and the didactic nature of the images.

The study also covered aspects such as colour vs black and white, 2D vs 3D, and photo vs illustration, and how these affect perceptions, UAB said in a press release.

The study concluded that the beauty of the coronavirus images is more likely to be seen in colour and three-dimensional images. And these are the images that are most used when informing the public about SARS-CoV-2. In this sense, the research discusses the role media has in distributing images that beautify the virus.

Researchers also found a negative correlation between the beauty detected in the images and their didactic value. The more beautiful the images were perceived as being, the less educational they seemed to spectators.

Source: Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona

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