The Pleasantness of Visual Symmetry: Always, Never or Sometimes

Anna Pecchinenda*, Marco Bertamini, Nicole Ruta, Alexis David James Makin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


There is evidence of a preference for visual symmetry. This is true from mate selection in the animal world to the aesthetic appreciation of works of art. It has been proposed that this preference is due to processing fluency, which engenders positive affect. But is visual symmetry pleasant? Evidence is mixed as explicit preferences show that this is the case. In contrast, implicit measures show that visual symmetry does not spontaneously engender positive affect but it depends on participants intentionally assessing visual regularities. In four experiments using variants of the affective priming paradigm, we investigated when visual symmetry engenders positive affect. Findings showed that, when no Stroop-like effects or post-lexical mechanisms enter into play, visual symmetry spontaneously elicits positive affect and results in affective congruence effects.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPLoS ONE
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2014


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