The Next 100 Things You Need To Know About People: #106 — People Prefer Objects With Curves

Do people prefer logos with curves rather than logos with interesting angles? Have you noticed that your favorite smartphones, tablets, and laptops tend to have rounded corners?People prefer objects with curves—a preference that’s evident even in brain scans. This field of study is called neuroaesthetics.

Bar and Neta showed concrete and abstract images with and without curves to people, for example, the images below:

Moshe diagram
Moshe diagram (http://barlab.mgh.harvard.edu/publications.htm)

People gave higher “liking” ratings to the objects with curves. Bar and Neta’s theory was that the sharp and angled images conveyed a sense of threat.

What about complex shapes? Silvia and Baron tested complex, angular shapes and complex shapes with slightly curved edges. Again, people preferred the objects with curves.

Helmut Leder Pablo Tinio and Bar (2011) asked whether this preference for curves was true for both “positive” objects (birthday cakes and teddy bears) and “negative”objects (razor blades and spiders). The results? People preferred curves in objects that were either positive or neutral, but there was no preference for curves in negative objects.

Curves stimulate the brain — Ed Connor and Neeraja Balachander took this idea into a neuroimaging lab.  Not only did people prefer rounded shapes, there was more brain activity in the visual cortex when they viewed shapes that were more curved and more rounded.

Takeaways:

  • People prefer curves
  • If you’re creating a logo, incorporate some form of curve in the design
  • If you’re creating areas of color on a screen, consider using a “swoosh” or curved shape
  • If you’re designing actual products – such as smartphones, remote controls, medical devices, or other hand-held items – used curved surfaces.

Nike, Apple, Pepsi, Coca-Cola and dozens of other well-known brands use one or more curves in their logos. Did they fall into curves or did they do their homework?

Here are the research references:

Bar, Moshe, and Maital Neta. 2006. “Humans prefer curved visual objects.” Psychological Science. 17(8): 645-648.

Leder, Helmut, P.P.L. Tinio, and M. Bar. 2011. “Emotional valence modulates the preference for curved objects.” Perception. 40, 649-655.

If you liked this article, and want more info like it, check out my newest book: 100 MORE Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People. 

 

 

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One Reply to “The Next 100 Things You Need To Know About People: #106 — People Prefer Objects With Curves”

  1. Spot – on!

    Think how the angular, sharp logo for Hillary’s present campaign reflects her unlikable, cold, calculating, deceitful true self.

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