Domain specificity in human symmetry preferences: symmetry is most pleasant when looking at human faces

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16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Visual symmetry has been found to be preferred to asymmetry in a variety of domains and across species. A number of theories propose to explain why symmetry is preferred. In this article, I compare a perceptual bias view, in which symmetry is preferred due to factors inherit to the visual system, and an evolutionary advantage view, in which symmetry is preferred due to selection pressures on partner preference. Preferences for symmetry in three stimulus types were determined by having symmetric and asymmetric versions of the same images rated for pleasantness: human female faces, macaque monkey faces, and abstract art. It was found that preferences for symmetry were strongest for human female faces and weakest for art. This finding builds on previous research suggesting that symmetry preferences for human faces are different from symmetry preferences in other domains and that simple perceptual bias explanations do not wholly explain human visual face symmetry preferences. While consistent with an evolutionary advantage view, these data are also potentially explainable via a perceptual bias view which accounts for experience of stimuli. The interplay between these two views is discussed in the context of the current study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-233
Number of pages12
JournalSymmetry
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • Art
  • Asymmetry
  • Bias
  • Biological stimuli
  • Face preference
  • Specific
  • Symmetry

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