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Jonathan S. Gardner, Charless Fowlkes, Christine Nothelfer, Stephen E. Palmer; Exploring aesthetic principles of spatial composition through stock photography. Journal of Vision 2008;8(6):337. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/8.6.337.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Past research in our laboratory (Palmer, Gardner & Wickens, in press; Palmer & Gardner, VSS 2007) has shown robust and systematic aesthetic preferences for the horizontal position and direction of a single object within a frame. In particular, people prefer the object to be laterally positioned near the center of the frame (the “center bias”) and to face into, rather than out of, the frame (the “inward bias”). In the present research we extend these findings with experimentally manipulated images to the vertical dimension, where we find a strong “lower bias” for objects supported from below (e.g., a cup or bowl) and an “upper bias” for those supported from above (e.g., a ceiling light). We also investigated the extent to which these horizontal and vertical biases are manifest in aesthetically pleasing natural images outside the laboratory by analyzing images from the Corel database of stock photography. Observers viewed hundreds of images that they judged to contain just one or two focal objects and indicated where they perceived the center of the visible portions of these objects to be located. Using these data, we examined evidence for the center, inward, lower, and upper biases found in our previous laboratory research separately for one- and two-object pictures. We also tested models of people's judgments about the location of the center of the visible portion of an object (e.g. bounding-box, center of mass, geometrical center, etc.).
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