"And in some cases, we do make distinctions between artworks - say, an exact replica of a piece created by the artist versus one created by a different artist," said professor Daniel M. Bartels from the University of Chicago' Booth school of business. In their paper, researchers built on previous studies that looked at the continuity of people.


"For example, if you transplant someone's brain along with its memories into another body, is that the same person?" asked Bartels. Identity is determined by the sameness of physical and mental states - and this view applies to art, as well."We have intuitions about the continuity of people and other kinds of one-of-a-kind objects," Bartels added.


They found that people viewed copies of tools the in the same way as the original no matter who manufactured them. But with art, replicas created by the original artist were viewed similarly to the original, whereas they were not when another artist made the re-creations."This has to do with 'magical contagion' - the idea that the essence of the artist rubs off on the creation," explained professor George E. Newman from Yale University's school of management.


According to Bartels, "If the artist made physical contact with the replica, it is as if the artist imbued the work with her/his essence by having worked with the (new, replica) piece - it seems like others who might make the copy or other processes by which a copy could be made cannot transmit this essence in this way".


The paper appeared in the journal Topics in Cognitive Science.


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