Understanding the perception of the human mind.
The success of any visual composition highly relates to how people perceive it. There are many factors influencing human perception and the significant part goes to psychology. All the visual objects can be analyzed in terms of shape. For example, an average house may be perceived as a rectangle with a triangle on the top and the sun is often presented as a circle with lines around it. People may not always notice what figures and shapes surround them still, they have a great impact on our consciousness and behaviour. A person’s liking towards a particular shape or figure can reveal their personality and character traits. Similarly, quick responses to shapes can tell what’s on the mind. Research and tests conducted over the years have helped professionals to establish meanings of each shape and how it can influence human perception.
‘Psychology of shape’ suggests that every shape has a meaning attached to it, which influences our mind and reactions differently.’
The perception of a character’s personality is greatly influenced by shape psychology. The three basic shapes of circle, square and triangle or variations of these three shapes, and the way that you combine them creates this perception. Perception plays a critical role in the success of any visual component.
How people perceive a thing, makes a lot of difference.
But what do shapes mean? There are plenty of geometric shapes that we see in day to day life, but taking the following ones into consideration Squares, Rectangles, Circles, Triangle.
Squares and Rectangles These two shapes are thought to be the most commonly used. The familiarity of squares and rectangles makes them easy to be used as the base of a design or as a frame. Squares and rectangles make us feel safe and contained. They give a sense of stability and assurance but also easily fall to the background, and the feelings they convey are mostly subliminal. Straight lines and right angles of these two shapes give a sense of reliability and security. People strongly associate squares and rectangles with buildings, the reason why they bring the feeling of trust and authority. Common meanings: Discipline, Strength, Courage, Security, Reliability
Triangles Triangle is a dynamic, energetic, active and powerful associated with motion and direction. The lines are placed that way so our eyes automatically move to the top of a triangle or in the direction it is placed. Triangles can have different meanings. An upright triangle brings feelings of stability and balance but the reversed one looks risky and ready to fall giving people a sense of tense. Common meanings: Excitement, Risk, Courageous, Balance, Creativity, Subjectivity.
Circles The first and foremost meaning of this shape is the eternity since they have no beginning or end. The circle was the first shape to be invented. It has a long association with the sun and Earth as well as other cosmic objects while the ellipse is similar to the whole universe. These rounded shapes tend to send a positive emotional message of harmony and protection. The circle is often used to represent unity, commitment, love or community. In addition, unlike the previous shapes circles don’t have angles so it makes them softer and milder. Common meanings: Eternity, Female, Universe, Magic, Mystery.
To understand the study of shapes more deeply I created a survey which included the Visual Form Perception Task, targeting the age group 18–60 years old. The following are the responses and conclusions derived from it:
A figure can tell about a person’s character traits, a quickly chosen shape can show what’s on the mind.
How do people react to the downward triangle?
When asked about this question, the majority of them felt a negative impact. It symbolises downward direction, which looks risky and ready to fall, giving people a sense of fear, tension and feels heavy.
Some of the responses are as follows:
1. Pyramid of stressful things
2. Downward = Depression
3. Shape seems dynamic
4. It’s not calming, gives a sense of downfall in life. A burden
5. Its lesser-seen as a symbol for goodwill/positivity and rather more rarely as research studies to explain a hierarchy or something, while normal triangle has been part of subject line global importance, studies.
6. The triangle pointing upwards shows a sharpness and isn’t soothing. Pointy things give a feeling of irritation and annoyance.
7. It shows the withering, opposite of growth.
8. The downward triangle kind of reminds me of negativity.
9. It triggered anxiety. Demotivates my ideas.
10. Looks like everything is forced towards one vertex, seems to be pushy on an extreme side
11. Downward triangle indicating less or decrease or fall, would associate with stress being negative.
12. Its lesser-seen as a symbol for goodwill/positivity and rather more rarely as research studies to explain a hierarchy or something, while normal triangle has been part of subject line global importance, studies.
Do shapes affect our emotions?
Shapes and their characteristics such as roundness, angularity, simplicity, and complexity have been postulated to affect the emotional responses of human beings in the field of visual arts and psychology.
Previous work has demonstrated that simple geometric shapes may convey emotional meaning using various experimental paradigms. However, the affective meaning of simple geometric shapes can be automatically activated. The held survey employed a priming example to investigate whether and how the geometric shape (downward triangle) impact on the human mind and exert emotions.
Our results provide support for the notion that the downward triangle is perceived as negative.
Survey supporting Kandinsky’s theory
The simplification of colour and form to primary shapes and colours was a key process for Kandinsky and other Bauhaus artists whose aim was to create an ideal means of communicating visually in the fields of both art and design (Jacobson 2002,2004). In 1923, borrowing from the relevant experimental psychological methods of the time, Kandinsky famously handed out a questionnaire to workshop participants, where a triangle was associated with yellow, a square was associated with red, and a circle was associated with blue (Gage.1993) Kandinsky’s correspondences are the three most commonly chosen combinations across experiments (for a review of modern empirical findings on colour–shape correspondences, see (Dreksler&Spence,2019)
According to Kandinsky’s theory, the bright, zingy sharpness of yellow complements triangles most effectively — which ties in with the shape’s naturally energetic qualities. Hence this was proven in the conducted survey.
For Kandinsky, squares are most closely associated with the colour red, because of its familiar, earthy qualities, which complement the shape’s natural stability and trustworthiness. Hence this was proven in the conducted survey.
Form perception is the recognition of visual elements of objects, specifically those to do with shapes, patterns and previously identified important characteristics. An object is perceived by the retina as a two-dimensional image, but the image can vary for the same object in terms of the context with which it is viewed, the apparent size of the object, the angle from which it is viewed, how illuminated it is, as well as where it resides in the field of vision.
Here are the received responses:
Confusion, Chaos, Unstable, It’s distorted, It feels as if the person is trying to manage two very significant things in his mind and having a hard time, A knot with some loose ends, Together with but still distinct, as in, It is not blending even if it’s entangled, Haphazard, Anxiety, Stress, Uneasiness, Disgust.
Happy, Loneliness, Hope, Focused, Particular, Attractive, Hatred, Fearlessness, Unique, Confidence, Free to explore, Cornered, 1 angry face in many happy faces, Single still attention-seeking, Somehow reminds me of the saying that- one rotten mango can ruin the others (this was what came to my mind first), Negative energy, Pessimism, Diffidence, Unapproachable, Imperfection, Isolated, Triggers my OCD, but overlooking that it's pretty peaceful, Order, Precise, Certain, Focus, Spirituality, Unity in spite of differences.
Hearing the word shape most people think about geometric figures first. There are plenty of geometric shapes that people see daily including squares, circles, triangle. These shape influence how we perceive the space around us. For example, triangles can represent success, and squares can symbolize balance and security. By understanding the science of shapes, we can effectively utilize them in our day to day life. This also proves that every shape and colour has a personality, which is inhibited in each of us.