Opposition and Identicalness: Two Basic Components of Adults' Perception and Mental Representation of Symmetry

Ivana Bianchi, Marco Bertamini, Roberto Burro, Ugo Savardi
2017 Symmetry  
Symmetry is a salient aspect of biological and man-made objects, and has a central role in perceptual organization. Two studies investigate the role of opposition and identicalness in shaping adults' naïve idea of "symmetry". In study 1, both verbal descriptions of symmetry (either provided by the participants or selected from among alternatives presented by the experimenter) and configurations drawn as exemplars of symmetry were studied. In study 2, a pair comparison task was used. Both
more » ... focus on configurations formed by two symmetrical shapes (i.e., between-objects symmetry). Three main results emerged. The explicit description of symmetry provided by participants generally referred to features relating to the relationship perceived between the two shapes and not to geometrical point-by-point transformations. Despite the fact that people tended to avoid references to opposition in their verbal definition of symmetry in study 1, the drawings that they did to represent their prototypical idea of symmetry manifested opposition as a basic component. This latter result was confirmed when the participants were asked to select the definition (in study 1) or the configuration (in study 2) that best fitted with their idea of symmetry. In conclusion, identicalness is an important component in people's naïve idea of symmetry, but it does not suffice: opposition complements it.
doi:10.3390/sym9080128 fatcat:5bkx2ppzjrfrxjaelxipfebvoq