2011 volume 40(10) pages 1254 – 1256

Cite as:
Shepherd K, Bar M, 2011, "Preference for symmetry: Only on Mars?" Perception 40(10) 1254 – 1256

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Preference for symmetry: Only on Mars?

Kathrine Shepherd, Moshe Bar

Abstract. Preference for symmetry is a robust bias found throughout the animal kingdom. In humans, the bias for symmetry has been documented in numerous domains, including faces and visual patterns. The function of this potent aesthetic bias still eludes us, but prominent accounts focus on its role in mate selection and perceptual fluency. Previous studies have shown that both males and females find symmetrical faces to be more attractive, but here we show that the preference for symmetry in neutral stimuli (ie everyday and meaningless visual objects) is, on the other hand, unique to male participants. Our findings indicate that symmetry preference cannot be explained exclusively by perceptual or computational efficiency, because such an account is domain-independent yet females did not show any bias for the objects tested here. Further studies are needed to elucidate the utility of the male preference for visual object symmetry.

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