Naturally, while the congress participants have been spared the discomfort of high temperatures and humidity levels, the same cannot be said for the local organisers who continued to work in Rome throughout the Summer in order to finalise preparations for the Congress. This gave rise to added difficulties and that is why some extra sympathy and understanding from participants would greatly be appreciated today.
As regards the subject we have touched upon, there is one aspect which concerns us more directly, as scholars of scientific disciplines. Someone noted that the news articles in the press on the history of Roman temperatures contain an apparent absurdity. The thermometer, in fact, was invented by Galileo and perfected in Tuscany by Torricelli only in the seventeenth century; while systematic weather recording has only been carried out for just over a century. Therefore, comparisons made over the last 600 years are based on very indirect empirical information. What is certain, however, is that this has been the hottest summer in Rome for the last one hundred and twenty years, and this will suffice for us.
The Rome Congress of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics has the most participants and contributions ever in the over thirty-three-year history of this scientific society, which sees the membership, amongst other scholars, of most of the psychologists who are interested in linking art, creativity and aesthetics with systematic observations.
With respect to the Prague Congress of 1996, which was a step forward compared with the previous conferences, this time we have around 213 authors registered, coming from more than 30 different countries, with an overall production of more than 190 papers. In Montreal, in 1994, we had 80 participants from a few countries. In Prague, in 1996, there were around 150 participants from 21 countries. We are proud to take part in the growth of the Association.
The new abstracts are all in this volume and are divided according to the relevant day, symposium and paper session. Five invited papers have also been inserted and these include, for this edition of the Congress, the Gustav Theodor Fechner Address, by Robert Franc=E9s, the Presidential Address, by Colin Martindale, and three Key-Notes on topics of particular competence entrusted respectively to Anna Silvia Bombi, Paolo Bonaiuto and Laszlo Halasz.
Part of the Congress work will also be devoted to the meeting of participants with artists speaking on their works. These are the artists who accepted our invitation, made with the call for papers, to present personal visual works accompanied by short written notes. Seventeen IAEA members accepted the invitation and their writings, together with some reproductions of the works, go to make up a separate short catalogue which was coordinated by Pavel Machotka and Anna Maria Giannini.
Anna also devoted her time and energy to assist the Scientific and Organizational Committee and to direct the local Secretarial Staff, patiently dealing with a plethora of practical problems: things which are the norm in every Congress, but which were magnified in our case by the large number of participants involved, the desire to guarantee participation to as many scholars as possible - some coming from parts of the world with currency exchange difficulties - and the considerable differences in habits, intentions and lifestyles found with those who wanted to submit papers. Probably, the great interest for art and for the aesthetics of reality and life makes participants in this kind of Congress particularly creative, but also a little special in other aspects. Anna accepted changes, substitutions and shifts in the program right up to the last minute. To give an example, she quickly and willingly helped out some far-off participants who, months after having properly sent the one-page abstract of their presentations, then sent messages of the following type: "Unfortunately, (...) I lost my e-mail together with the abstract of my paper for the Rome Congress. Therefore, could you please send me a copy? Thank you and I apologize for the bother. Cordially yours ... (signature)". Or in another case: "Thank you for the chance given for my paper presentation (...). Now I have to take some necessary duties for members including paying the entry fee. I am very sorry that I have to confess that I have lost the account number. As your important letter arrived, I kept it in a special place, but it was too special to be found again. Please kindly send me the information to the following address again ... (signed)".
On the other hand, even the organizers were a bit na=EFve and hurried at times. An example of this may also lend itself to explaining the role of consolidated expectations in guiding some human cognitive processes. A doctor asked to share a hotel room with colleagues; because his first name ends in "as", he was placed in a room with two women. This misunderstanding was cleared up later over the telephone. In many cases, the abstracts received were retyped and they were all carefully reviewed for language errors. There are long abstracts (up to 98 lines) and very short ones (only five lines). Some were in languages other than English and had to be translated here to make them available and comprehensible for the average reader of the volume.
We take this opportunity to mention the kindness and commitment of certain institutions and individuals that have helped to achieve various initiatives within the Congress, including the printing of this volume. A first acknowledgement goes to the Scientific Research Commission of the University of Rome "La Sapienza", which approved the preliminary project for the Congress and provided considerable funding. We are grateful, furthermore, to Prof. Giuseppe D'Ascenzo, Rector of "La Sapienza", for also agreeing to host the opening day session by placing the main lecture theatre and some halls of this great University at our disposal. For similar reasons, we wish to thank other eminent members of the above-mentioned University, such as Prof. Nino Dazzi, Dean of the Psychology Faculty, Prof. Stefano Puglisi Allegra, Head of the Department of Psychology and Prof. Clotilde Pontecorvo, Head of the Department of Psychology of Developmental and Socialization Processes, for their kind permission to hold Congress meetings in the main hall and the large lecture rooms on the upper floors of the Faculty of Psychology, and for having placed projection equipment, computers and technical personnel at our disposal for the five days required. Other equipment was kindly offered by the CATTID (Centre for Telematic and Television Applications for Distance Teaching) and by the Apple Computer and Fausto Bagnetti firms; also thanks to Prof. Paolo Renzi, who was an invaluable consultant for various technical problems concerning computer technology.
We are also very grateful to all those who gave their support to the Scientific and Organizational Committee of the Congress. We particularly wish to mention the Banca di Roma, and several publishers: Angeli, Armando, Boringhieri, Borla, Carrocci, Cortina, Einaudi, Electa, Feltrinelli, Giunti, Il Mulino, Il Pensiero Scientifico, La Nuova Italia, Mondadori, Psicologia and Sage. Our special thanks must also go to a very active publishing house in Rome, the Edizioni Universitarie Romane (EUR), which - amongst other things - printed the Proceedings, the Congress Program, and the Artist Catalogue.
The cover illustrations of the mentioned books were selected by Paolo Bonaiuto.
Our heartfelt thanks go to the students, young graduates and researchers of the Faculty of Psychology, University of Rome "La Sapienza", who cooperated in setting up the Congress as part of the Secretarial Staff. We warmly wish to thank exponents of the cultural sphere who have followed our activity with attention, useful suggestions and constructive criticism: among them the Italian Professors of Art History, Corrado Maltese, Maurizio Calvesi, Maria Luisa Dalai Emiliani, and Simonetta Lux. Some of them, and Dr. Luciana Cassanelli, agreed to honour our Opening Ceremony by their presence.
To the professionals, researchers, teachers, journalists,
artists and students, who have preliminarly received copies of this book
and are taking part in this conference, we therefore extend our greetings
and our best wishes for the activities of the Congress.
Rome, September 1998
On behalf of the Scientific and Organizational Committee
P. Bonaiuto, A. M. Giannini, C. Martindale, H. Höge,
P. Machotka, G. Cupchick