Symmetry Lasts Longer Than Random, but Only for Brief Presentations

Ogden, Ruth and Makin, Alexis and Palumbo, Letizia and Bertamini, Marco (2016) Symmetry Lasts Longer Than Random, but Only for Brief Presentations. i-perception, 7 (6). pp. 1-16. ISSN 2041-6695


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Previous research has shown that explicit emotional content or physical image properties (e.g., luminance, size, and numerosity) alter subjective duration. Palumbo recently demonstrated that the presence or absence of abstract reflectional symmetry also influenced subjective duration. Here, we explored this phenomenon further by varying the type of symmetry (reflection or rotation) and the objective duration of stimulus presentation (less or more than 1 second). Experiment 1 used a verbal estimation task in which participants estimated the presentation duration of reflection, rotation symmetry, or random square-field patterns. Longer estimates were given for reflectional symmetry images than rotation or random, but only when the image was presented for less than 1 second. There was no difference between rotation and random. These findings were confirmed by a second experiment using a paired-comparison task. This temporal distortion could be because reflection has positive valence or because it is processed efficiently be the visual system. The mechanism remains to be determined. We are relatively sure, however, that reflectional patterns can increase subjective duration in the absence of explicit semantic content, and in the absence of changes in the size, luminance, or numerosity in the images.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information and Comments: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Science > Psychology
Depositing User: Letizia Palumbo
Date Deposited: 08 Dec 2016 12:52
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2018 01:52

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