The Law of Symmetry | Best Web Design

The Law of Symmetry

The law of Symmetry

The law of symmetry is a Gestalt principle of perceptual organisation which observes the human tendency to perceive visual elements as grouped when they are part of a symmetrical arrangement.

The world may be full of complex shapes and objects, but human perception processes these complex forms in a way that leaves us with a much simpler mental representation. Human perception biases our view of complex forms and one of the primary ways this occurs is in the way we interpret and organise visual information to ‘create’ symmetry.

By create we mean there are many alternative interpretations or configurations possible when we view most objects, but we are biased to perceive symmetry and simplicity, even when there are a myriad of different ways to see an object.

An Example

The Gestaltists acknowledged this perceptual phenomenon and the ‘Law of Symmetry’ represents one of the Gestalt principles of perceptual organisation. When we look at objects, our visual organs focus our attention at the centre, which instantly influences the way in which we see the world.

Symmetry occurs where there is balance between the two halves of an object or scene from the centre. However, it is not by simply focussing on the centre of an object or scene that we experience symmetry; instead, human perception biases the way we interpret visual information, from this centre point, to ensure we extract the most simple and symmetrical form.

For example, when we look at the Audi symbol below we see four interlocking rings, as opposed a more complex series of shapes.

Audi Symbol

The Importance of Symmetry

Symmetry occurs naturally in our environment, whether it is the two sides of a snail shell, the wings of a butterfly or a human face. We unconsciously choose mates on the basis of facial symmetry, which highlights the significance of symmetry to humans and gives some suggestion why our sensory organs, those responsible for processing visual information, are attuned to detect symmetry.

Take a look at the two sets of parentheses/brackets above; of the two, which would you say is more aesthetically pleasing? The Gestalt principle of symmetry would suggest you have chosen the second set of brackets.

Now consider how this preference for symmetry might affect our viewing experience in other situations and how you might be able to use symmetry.

July 30, 2019

Design principles: Gestalt Psychology

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