Hubner and Fillinger investigated how the apparent balance and stability of elements in images influenced how much they were liked. They determined that “for the multiple-element stimuli, there was a positive relation between balance/stability and liking. . . . each element in a picture has a certain visual ‘weight’ depending on its features like size, shape, and color (Arnheim, 1954). . . . a heavy weight located on one side of the fulcrum can be balanced by a lighter weight positioned further away on the other side. . . . Pierce (1894) observed that balance is mainly applied for the horizontal arrangement of elements, whereas for vertical arrangements stability plays a greater role. For instance, pictures were preferred when they had more weight in their lower part rather than in their upper half.. . . . pictures were rated as more balanced if the center of mass was closer to the geometric center of the picture.” The authors point out that balance/stability are just two of the factors that can influence visual preference.
Ronald Hubner and Martin Fillinger. “Perceptual Balance, Stability, and Aesthetic Appreciation: Their Relations Depend on the Picture Type.” i-Perception, in press, DOI: 10.1177/2041669519856040