I found this interesting article this morning, that implies that people find curved objects more comforting than sharp objects. Thought it might have some relation to strategies for abstracting images for the paint synthesizer or the vectorizer based on the kind of emotional reaction the artist intends to achieve in the final result. Humans Prefer Curved Visual Objects Moshe Bar and Maital Neta Martinos Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School ABSTRACT—People constantly make snap judgments about objects encountered in the environment. Such rapid judgments must be based on the physical properties of the targets, but the nature of these properties is yet unknown. We hypothesized that sharp transitions in contour might convey a sense of threat, and therefore trigger a negative bias. Our results were consistent with this hypothesis. The type of contour a visual object possesses—whether the contour is sharp angled or curved—has a critical influence on people’s attitude toward that object.objects with a sharp-angled contour with subjective preference for the same objects when their contour was instead curved.

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Comment by Synthetik Software on September 7, 2007 at 2:16pm
Here's another reference associated the response of a viewer to sharp edges to be associated with the amygdala, explaining the negative association.

Visual elements of subjective preference modulate amygdala activation
Moshe Bar ∗ , Maital Neta

What are the basic visual cues that determine our preference towards mundane everyday objects? We previously showed that a highly potent cue is the nature of the object’s contour: people generally like objects with a curved contour compared with objects that have pointed features and a sharp-angled contour. This bias is hypothesized here to stem from an implicit perception of potential threat conveyed by sharp elements. Using human neuroimaging to test this hypothesis, we report that the amygdala, a brain structure that is involved in fear processing and has been shown to exhibit activation level that is proportional to arousal in general, is significantly more active for everyday sharp objects (e.g., a sofa with sharp corners) compared with their curved contour counterparts. Therefore, our results indicate that a preference bias towards a visual object can be induced by low-level perceptual properties, independent of semantic meaning, via visual elements that on some level could be associated with threat. We further present behavioral results that provide initial support for the link between the sharpness of the contour and threat perception. Our brains might be organized to extract these basic contour elements rapidly for deriving an early warning signal in the presence of potential danger.
Comment by beyond materials on November 11, 2007 at 8:14am
That's fascinating. So many times in SA I make choices between sharp edges or round shapes and now I can look at those in a different light.


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