Jay Friedenberg

Professor, Psychology

My academic interests broadly speaking are in the areas of cognitive science, artificial intelligence and visual perception. My coauthor Gordon Silverman and I have published the world’s best-selling undergraduate textbook in cognitive science. It has sold several thousand copies in the U.S. and around the world and is currently in its third edition. I have also written books on artificial intelligence and on topics in dynamical systems and complexity theory.


  • PHD, University of Virginia
  • MA, University of Virginia
  • BA, Boston University

Courses Taught

PSYC 340      Cognition and Learning
PSYC 332      Artificial Psychology
PSYC 367      Sensation and Perception
PSYC 435      Physiological Psychology

  • Research

    My research interest until the past few years was on how people estimate the center of objects. Much of this work was done with my colleague Bruce Liby in the physics department. My focus now is on the perceived aesthetics of geometric forms. Our lab is actively investigating the properties that affect the judged beauty of simple shapes like polygons. We have found that factors like elongation, complexity and symmetry affect the perceived beauty of these stimuli.

  • Publications and Scholarly Activities

    Selected Books:

    • Friedenberg, J. & Silverman, G. (2016). Cognitive science. An introduction to the study of mind. Los Angeles: Sage Publishers.
    • Friedenberg, J. (2013). Visual attention and consciousness. New York: Psychology Press.
    • Friedenberg, J. (2009)  Dynamical Psychology.  Complexity, Self-organization and the mind.  Emergent Publishing.
    • Friedenberg, J. (2008). Artificial psychology:  The quest for what it means to be human. New York: Psychology Press.

    Selected Journal Articles:

    • Friedenberg, J. & Bertamini, M. (2015). Aesthetic preference for polygon shape. Empirical Studies of the Arts, 33(2), 144-160.
    • Friedenberg, J. Keating, T. & Liby, B. (2012). Judging the center of human figures: Evidence for dynamic perception. International Journal of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 1(4), 30-38.
    • Friedenberg, J. (2012). Aesthetic judgment of triangular shape: Compactness and not the golden ratio determines perceived attractiveness. i-Perception, 3, 163-176.
    • Liby, B. W. & Friedenberg, J. (2010). Visual estimation of three- and four-body center of mass. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 110 (1), 195-212.
    • Graham, D. J., Friedenberg, J., Rockmore, D. N., & Field, D. J. (2010). Mapping the similarity space of paintings: Image statistics and visual perception. Visual Cognition, 18 (4), 559-573.
    • Friedenberg, J. & Liby, B. (2008). Perceiving the center of three-body displays:  The role of size-ratio, symmetry, elongation, and gravity.  The Open Behavioral Science Journal,2, 13-122.
    • Friedenberg, J. & Limratana, W. (2008). Hierarchical numerosity estimation, Psychological Research, 69 (3), 211-220.
    • Friedenberg, J. & Liby, B. (2002).  Perception of two-body center of mass.  Perception & Psychophysics.  64(4), 531-539.
    • Bertamini, M., Friedenberg J. & Argyule L. (2002). No within-object advantage for detection of rotation.  Acta Psychologica. 111, 59-81.
    • Friedenberg, J. (2001). Lateral feature displacement and perceived facial attractiveness. Psychological Reports, 88, 295-305.
    • Friedenberg, J., & Bertamini, M. (2000). Contour symmetry detection: The influence of axis orientation and number of objects. Acta Psychologica. 105, 107-118.
    • Bertamini, M., Friedenberg, J., & Kubovy, M. (1997). Detection of symmetry and perceptual organization: The way a lock-and-key process works. Acta Psychologica. 95 (2), 119-140.

     Recent Conference Presentations:

    • Friedenberg, J., Wasilewski, A. & Donahue, E. Aesthetic judgment of texture patterns: Beauty is in the perceived density of the beholder. Paper presented at the 13th annual meeting of the Vision Sciences Society. Naples, Florida. May 10-15, 2013.
    • Friedenberg, J., Rotondo, E. & Rypl, C. Contour variance and the perceived attractiveness of polygonal shape. Paper presented at 84th annual meeting of The Eastern Psychological Association. New York City, New York. March 1-4, 2013.
    • Friedenberg, J., Spooner, T., Rivera, E., Wasilewski, A. & McBride, N. Aesthetic judgment of geometric shape. The role of compactness. Paper presented at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society. Seattle, Washington. November 3-6, 2011.
    • Friedenberg, J. McBride, N., Spooner, T. & Rivera, E. Aesthetic judgements of geometric shape. Paper presented at the 82nd annual meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association. Cambridge, Massachusetts. March 10-13, 2011.
    • Friedenberg, J. & Keating, T. Perceiving the center of human figures. Paper presented at the Vision Sciences Society Meeting. Naples, Florida. May 7-10, 2010.
    • Friedenberg, J., Keating, T., McBride, N., & Hirakis, S. Perception of human center of mass. Paper presented at the Eastern Psychological Association Meeting. Brooklyn, New York. March 4-7, 2010.
    • Friedenberg, J. & Liby, B. Time series analysis of picture rating data. Paper presented at the 19th annual meeting of the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and the Life Sciences. Milwaukee, Wisconsin. July 23-25, 2009.
    • Friedenberg, J., Smyth, E., Germino, D., & Auletta, G. Aesthetic judgment of painting categories. Paper presented at the 63rd annual meeting of the Eastern Colleges Science Conference. Staten Island, New York. April 25-27, 2009.
    • Friedenberg, J. & Liby, B. Estimating the center of multi-body displays. Talk presented at the 49th annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society. Chicago, Illinois. November 13-16, 2008.
    • Graham, D. & Friedenberg, J. Mapping the Similarity Space of Paintings: Is There a Role for Image Statistics? Paper presented at the annual meeting of the European Conference on Visual Perception. Utrecht, the Netherlands. August 24 - 28, 2008.
    • Friedenberg, J., Liby, B. & Flores, J. Center of Mass Estimation in Three-Body Displays: The Influence of Median Length and Orientation. Paper presented at the 8th annual meeting of the Vision Sciences Society. Naples, Florida. May 9 – 14, 2008.
    • Friedenberg, J., Liby, B. & Germino, D. Perception of Four-Body Center-of-Mass. Paper presented at the 79th Annual Meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association. Boston, Massachusetts.  March 14, 2008.
  • Professional Experience and Memberships


    • The International Association of Empirical Aesthetics, 2011 - present.
    • New York Academy of Sciences, 2002 - 2004.
    • American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2000 - 2004.
    • Sigma Xi, The National Scientific Research Society. 1999 - present.
    • The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, 1996 - present.
    • The Psychonomic Society. Associate Member, 1996 - present.
    • The Eastern Psychological Association, 1995 - present.
    • Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society, 1988 - present.
    • Psi Chi, The National Honor Society in Psychology, 1987 - present.
    • Vision Sciences Society, 1999 – present.
  • Other


    • Landscape art
    • Graphic design
    • Haiku
    • Aphorisms