body bearing symmetry
adjective depth dimensiondepth dimension BACKdepth dimension FRONT


A cheerful circle and a serious square

When roundness is connected to symmetry as seen in a circle, it has a meaning in the depth dimension and perceived as cheerful and pleasant. While straight corners are perceived as more serious (Poffenberger en Barrows, 1924). Lakoff and Johnson (1999) saw that there are many proverbs and sayings that have to do with form characteristics and emotions. Round: regulated, completed, ready. (Michiels, I. editorial)

asymmetry/symmetry in the semantic space

In the depth dimension of the semantic space the bipolar asymmetry/ symmetry is characterized by the degree of difference in length and direction of the contour lines of a shape and in the regular distribution of the points of interest such as the angles, crossings and contrasts. In principle, this parameter distinguishes itself from the height dimension of the semantic space, in which the degree of order receives a moral loading in the sense of unclean / clean. Similarly, there is an influence on the width dimension of the semantic space in which a multiplicity of unequal parts causes unrest. Although an unorganized, asymmetrical shape can indeed seem very soothing, such as is the case in nature. However, it has been shown that in practice, when a designer elicits a sense of unrest in a design, it is often accompanied by an increased degree of asymmetry as described above. (Michiels, 2016)

Effect of degree of disorder or assymmetry

The degree of disorder or order is linked to sadness or happiness (Osgood, 1957). Jesús Ibáñez (2010) from the Pompeu Fabra University in Spain has done research on the connection between the emotions pleasant / unpleasant and the degree of symmetry in a composition. The use of symmetry to describe intrinsic attractiveness or rejection has been inspired by recent studies in which it has been established that perception of symmetry in the human face and health are linked to each other. Johnston (2007) states that symmetry is an indication of immunology. The less asymmetry in a human body, the better the immune system. That would be the reason why we are attracted by symmetrical people. The increase of asymmetry, and thus of aversion, described in the Ibáñez study, manifests itself mainly in the degree of rotation of the lines in the composition, and in the difference in length of the lines.

Symmetry and asymmetry in body posture

A symmetrical posture is an attitude in which the arms and legs are held in identical position on the left and right. Someone who adopts a symmetrical attitude shows respect or submission to something or someone else. For example, people who pray, from whatever culture, always assume a symmetrical posture. For example, they are kneeling with folded hands or standing with their hands raised.
When we feel comfortable in a person’s presence, we adopt an asymmetrical posture. So sometimes we cross our legs, we lean towards one side, or we hang out a bit.
(Roebers, 2013)