Symmetry is an important cue for the aesthetic judgment of beauty. Using a binary forced-choice format in a cued mixed design, Jacobsen and Höfel (2003) compared aesthetic judgments of beauty and symmetry judgments of novel graphic patterns. A late posterior sustained negativity elicited by symmetric patterns was observed in the symmetry judgment condition, but not in the beauty judgement condition. Therefore, this negativity appeared to be mainly driven by the task.In a series of studies, Bertamini, Makin, and colleagues observed a comparable sustained posterior negativity (SPN) to symmetric stimuli, mainly taken to reflect obligatory symmetry processing independent of task requirements. We reanalyzed the data by Jacobsen and Höfel (2003) using similar parameters for data analysis as Bertamini, Makin, and colleagues to examine these apparent differences. The reanalysis confirmed both a task-driven effect on the posterior sustained negativity/SPN to symmetric patterns in the symmetry judgment condition and a strong symmetry-driven SPN to symmetric patterns. Differences between the references used for analyses of the electroencephalogram (EEG) had an effect. Based on the reanalysis, the Jacobsen and Höfel (2003) data also fit well with Bertamini’s, Makin’s, and colleagues’ account of obligatory symmetry processing.
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