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date: 27 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Symmetry has attracted interest from many scholars, scientists, and artists over the centuries. It has been described as a key principle of aesthetics as well as a factor in perception of shape. We critically review the empirical evidence regarding the link between symmetry and aesthetics, between symmetry and beauty/attractiveness, and between symmetry and affect, and discuss possible mechanisms. We show that, although symmetry entails regularity and redundancy, there is no clear and strong link between beauty and simplicity. Also, although symmetry influences aesthetic judgments, it is difficult to isolate a neural correlate of this link, suggesting that spontaneous aesthetic responses to symmetry are not elicited in the brain unless people are explicitly processing symmetry aesthetically. Finally, we show that preference for symmetry lies on a continuum from a universal tendency to prefer symmetry to obsessive need for order and balance.

Keywords: Symmetry, mirror symmetry, reflection, aesthetics, beauty, affect

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