In a joint effort of researchers from the humanities and the sciences, the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics explores who aesthetically appreciates what, for which reasons and under which situational and historical circumstances, and analyzes the functions of aesthetic preferences and practices for individuals and societies.



[Translate to English:] Weiße Wolken auf blauem Hintergrund und im Vordergrund sind orangene Linien in Wellenbewegung zu sehen.

New Study Shows How Weather Conditions Influence Music Success in the Markets

Silhouette of a person in front of screen with Monet's picture Water-Lily Pond.

Art can have a positive effect on our mood. But does this also work when we look at paintings on a screen?

White speech and thought bubble on green background

How We Recognize Irony

Diagonal geteiltes Bild: Auf der linken Seite ist ein Konzertsaal mit Musiker:innen abgebildet, auf der rechten ein Konzertsaal, in dem ein Stream projiziert wird.

A concert experiment by the Kammerphilharmonie Frankfurt with the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics




Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics ArtLab

Fredrik Ullén plays György Ligeti's Etudes for Piano, Book I [more]



Director: Prof. Dr. Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann

Using a variety of methods, the Department of Music researches the processing, experiencing and evaluation of music, as well as behaviour during its reception.

Cognitive Neuropsychology

Director: Prof. Dr. Fredrik Ullén

The Department of Cognitive Neuropsychology investigates the neuropsychological mechanisms of musical expertise, skill learning and creativity, as well as relations between cultural engagement, well-being and health.


Research Groups

Histories of Music, Mind, and Body

Dr. Carmel Raz

The "Histories of Music, Mind, and Body" Research Group seeks to historicize specific philosophical, embodied, and medical understandings of the experience of music.


Computational Auditory Perception

Dr. Nori Jacoby

Focusing largely on the auditory modality, the "Computational Auditory Perception" Research Group explores the roles of experience and exposure in creating and affecting our perception of the world.

Neural and Environmental Rhythms

Molly Henry, PhD

The Research Group "Neural and Environmental Rhythms" focuses on understanding how brain–environment synchrony contributes to our individual experience of the auditory world

Neurocognition of Music and Language

PD Dr. Daniela Sammler

The Research Group “Neurocognition of Music and Language” explores perceptual, cognitive, and expressive similarities and differences between music and language, as well as their neural grounding and links with aesthetics.

Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition

Prof. Lucia Melloni, PhD

The Research Group Neural Circuits, Consciousness, and Cognition seeks to understand why some experiences feel the way they do (consciousness) and how such experiences are imprinted on our brain (learning and memory).



The Institute

The Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics investigates the foundations and mechanisms of aesthetic perception and evaluation and the aesthetically appealing features of objects and events across sensory modalities. It draws on broad multidisciplinary expertise and a large variety of methods. Its mission is to understand not only the many nuances of aesthetic liking and the individual and cultural differences involved in it, but also the motivational implications and functions of aesthetic experience for cognitive and affective development and for subjective well-being and social communication. [more]

About usPeople


The Library provides researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics as well as interested scholars and artists with literature, scientific information and audiovisual media in the fields of aesthetics, music, psychology, literature and cultural studies. [more]

CollectionOpening hours


The ArtLab is both a modern, multi-purpose event location, as well as a psychophysiological research facility. Regularly featured here are all kinds of performances (e.g., classical and contemporary musical concerts, literary readings, movie presentations) as well as scientific studies and experiments involving up to 46 test subjects simultaneously.
Information/ Facilities