Rolf Reber

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Rolf Reber

Rolf Reber (born May 17, 1959 in Basel ) is a Swiss psychologist . He is Professor of General Psychology at the University of Oslo .


Reber received his doctorate in psychology from the University of Bern in 1994 . In 1999 he received his habilitation. From 2003 he taught as an associate professor and from 2004 as a full professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Bergen . Since 2013 he has been Professor of General Psychology at the University of Oslo.


He has done research on the processing liquid (Engl. Processing fluency), especially for him, Norbert Schwarz ( University of Michigan ) and Piotr Winkielman ( University of California, San Diego developed) processing liquid theory of beauty .

According to this theory, the experience of beauty depends on the experienced ease of cognitive processing of the object, especially if the source of this processing fluid (e.g. symmetry ) remains undetected. This theory resolved the apparent contradiction between the equality of musical preferences in young children and the diversity of musical tastes in adults in different cultures. It has been shown that toddlers generally prefer consonant melodies to dissonant melodies; in addition, consonant melodies can be processed more easily than dissonant melodies. As children grow up, they hear the music of their culture, which increases the processing fluidity for that music, which leads to differences in musical tastes between different cultures.

Since the processing fluid influences both affect and truth judgments, judgments of beauty and truth are likely to be based on the experience of fluid processing. This would also explain why mathematicians sometimes use the beauty of a problem solution as an indication of its truth: Since the problem solution can be processed fluently, it is perceived as both beautiful and true. In fact, people use the simplicity and beauty of a graphed task as an indication that the task is solved correctly. The processing fluid and its effects can also help explain the phenomenology of the aha experience. An extension of the processing fluid theory takes into account the fact that many works of art are difficult to process, but can still be interpreted by the public and are liked.

Rolf Reber also deals with computer-aided learning . From the POSbase database he developed, among other things, which contains presentations of psychological studies, new methods for improving motivation in learning formal content in mathematics and natural sciences emerged.

Non-fiction author

Reber is the author of two non-fiction books on psychological topics: The "Little Psychology of Everyday" illustrates the relevance of 77 psychological experiments to everyday life and has been translated into Chinese and Korean. His second book, «Good! Little Psychology of Virtue »shows how psychology can help to do what is known to be good.


  • Conceptual and sensorimotor effects of emotions on memory. Dissertation, University of Bern, 1994.
  • Clearly recognized - already decided: The influence of perceptual fluency on evaluative judgments. Huber, Bern 2001.
  • Little Psychology of Everyday Life: 77 Lessons to Understand Life Better. Beck, Munich 2007.
  • OK then! Little psychology of virtue. Beck, Munich 2008.
  • Critical Feeling: How to Use Feelings Strategically - Cambridge University Press, 2016

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Rolf Reber, Norbert Schwarz, Piotr Winkielman: Processing Fluency and Aesthetic Pleasure: Is Beauty in the Perceiver's Processing Experience? . In: Personality and Social Psychology Review . 8, No. 4, 2004, pp. 364-382. doi : 10.1207 / s15327957pspr0804_3 . PMID 15582859 .
  2. ^ Gazzaniga, MS (2008). Human: The Science Behind What Makes Us Unique . New York: Ecco Books, Harper Collins.
  3. Reber, R., Brun, M., & Mitterndorfer, K. (2008). The use of heuristics in intuitive mathematical judgment. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review , 15 , 1174-1178.
  4. Topolinski, S., & Reber, R. (2010). Gaining insight into the "Aha" experience. Current Directions in Psychological Science , 19, 402-405.
  5. ^ Wray, H. (2011, January). Aha! The 23-Across Phenomenon. APS Observer, 24 (1).
  6. ^ Bullot, NJ, & Reber, R. (2013). The Artful Mind Meets Art History: Toward a Psycho-Historical Framework for the Science of Art Appreciation. Behavioral and Brain Sciences , 36 , 123-180.
  7. Netwatch. In Science, October 21, 2005: Vol. 310, no. 5747, p. 415
  8. ^ Reber, R., Hetland, H., Chen, W., Norman, E., & Kobbeltvedt, T. (2009): Effects of example choice on interest, control, and learning. In: Journal of the Learning Sciences. 18 (4): 509-548.