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 practices and preferences for individuals and societies.



Language and Literature

The Department of Language and Literature investigates the aesthetically relevant features and the aesthetic perception as well as the evaluation of linguistic utterances and texts, with a specific focus on literature.

Director: Prof. Dr. Winfried Menninghaus


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



Director: Prof. Dr. Melanie Wald-Fuhrmann


The Neuroscience Department, works on the neurobiology of hearing, language processing, and music, including the dimensions of aesthetic experience.


Director: Prof. David Poeppel, PhD





The Institute

Our institutes investigates the foundations and mechanisms of aesthetic perception and evaluation as well as aesthetically appealing features of objects and events across sensory modalities. It draws on broad multi-disciplinary expertise and a large variety of methods. Key desiderata include the multiple nuances as well as individual and cultural differences of aesthetic liking, its motivational implications and the functions of aesthetic experiences 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




Neues Artist-in-Residence Programm startet. Bewerbung bis 3.11.2019 möglich.

Wahrnehmung von Tonhöhen ist kulturell geprägt

Study on cross-cultural music perception published in Current Biology

Schönheit kommt von Innen

New Study Points to Universal Code in Our Brains for What We Find Beautiful

Empirische Ästhetik in Brighton

Powerful Literary Fiction Texts




31. Oktober 2019

60 Std. monatlich


12. November 2019




Max-Planck-Institut für empirische Ästhetik, ArtLab Foyer

Hard Work Alone Is Never Enough What is it to be a scientist? How does one become a scientist? “Growing up in Academia”... [more]

Max-Planck-Institut für empirische Ästhetik, ArtLab Foyer

Steering Aircrafts vs. Steering Research Projects What is it to be a scientist? How does one become a scientist?... [more]