Farzanfar and Walther, in a comprehensive open access article, probe visuals that humans respond most positively toward. They share that “the human visual system uses structural regularities in contour—lines that mark the outline of various shapes in a scene—to help us process information efficiently. . . . we found that aesthetic judgments of natural scenes were lower when line drawings of scenes were evaluated compared with when their photographs were evaluated. Line drawings of cities and other human-made artifacts, on the other hand, were liked more than their photographed counterparts. . . . an inherently more complex scene category, such as a city, is more likely to reach the optimal arousal point when presented as a drawing than as a comparably more complex color photograph. By contrast, natural scene categories are liked more as photographs than as line drawings, presumably because the decrease in complexity in the drawings moves them away from the optimal arousal point. Similarly, perceptual grouping cues such as symmetry that increase information gain are associated with aesthetic responses . . . and have been found to contribute to aesthetic judgments to some degree in our study.” This article is packed with details that will interest many designers.
Delaram Farzanfar and Dirk Walther. 2023. “Changing What You Like: Modifying Contour Properties Shifts Aesthetic Valuations of Sciences.” Psychological Science, https://doi.org/10.1177/09567976231190546