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Symmetry and Balance as Factors of Aesthetic Appreciation: Ethel Puffer’s (1903) “Studies in Symmetry” Revised

Department of Psychology, Universität Konstanz, 78464 Konstanz, Germany
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Symmetry 2019, 11(12), 1468; https://doi.org/10.3390/sym11121468
Received: 16 November 2019 / Revised: 26 November 2019 / Accepted: 30 November 2019 / Published: 2 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Empirical Aesthetics)
Symmetry and balance are basic concepts in art theory for the composition of pictures. It is assumed that well-balanced pictures are preferred to unbalanced ones. One of the first experimental studies to test this assumption was conducted more than a century ago by Ethel Puffer. By applying a production method, she found little evidence for the hypothesis that balance is favorable for the aesthetical appreciation of pictures. Instead, she observed that other construction principles competing with balance, such as bilateral symmetry and closeness, were applied. The aim of the present study was to repeat some of Puffer’s experiments with modern methods and to examine whether her results are replicable. In two experiments, we also found little to no evidence for balance. Moreover, as in Puffer’s study, participants used closeness and bilateral symmetry as principles. However, compared to that study, the relative frequency of use of these principles was quite different.
Keywords: empirical aesthetics; preference; symmetry; balance; composition empirical aesthetics; preference; symmetry; balance; composition
MDPI and ACS Style

Hübner, R.; Thömmes, K. Symmetry and Balance as Factors of Aesthetic Appreciation: Ethel Puffer’s (1903) “Studies in Symmetry” Revised. Symmetry 2019, 11, 1468.

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