For a person to experience beauty, he or she need to think, say researchers while confirming a philosphical notion by Immanuel Kant, the 18th century German philosopher.
The findings show that distractions do indeed detract from the experience of beauty. In other words, it takes thought to experience beauty when looking at a beautiful image.
On the other hand, sensuous pleasures were also found to be beautiful -- a theory rejected by Kant.
"We find that beauty, when it happens, is strongly pleasurable, and that strong pleasure is always beautiful," said Denis Pelli from New York University.
"Strong pleasure and beauty both require thought," Pelli added, in the paper reported in the journal Current Biology.
For the study, the team asked 62 people to indicate how much pleasure and beauty they felt while they saw an image, tasted a candy, or touched a soft teddy bear.
In another experiment, participants heard a series of letters and were asked to press a button any time they heard the same letter they'd heard two letters before.
The results showed that the distraction took away from the experience of beauty when a person was shown an image earlier deemed beautiful.
However, contrary to Kant's proposal that sensual pleasures can never be beautiful, about 30 per cent of participants said they'd definitely experienced beauty after sucking on a candy or touching a soft teddy bear.
Most of the partcipant's remarked that sucking candy had personal meaning for them, like a fond childhood memory.
"Our findings show that many other things besides art can be beautiful--even candy. But for maximum pleasure, nothing beats undistracted beauty," noted Aenne Brielmann, doctoral candidate in New York University.