The salience of vertical symmetry.

P. Wenderoth*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    167 Citations (Scopus)


    It has long been accepted that amongst patterns which are bilaterally symmetrical, those which have their axis of symmetry vertical are more saliently symmetrical than patterns whose axis of symmetry is at some other orientation. The evidence regarding the relative salience of other orientations of axis of symmetry is somewhat more equivocal. In experiment 1, subjects were required to discriminate between symmetric or random-dot patterns when the axis of symmetry was at one of eighteen different orientations, spaced 10 degrees apart, both clockwise and counterclockwise of vertical to horizontal. The data indicated that vertical was most salient, then horizontal but that, unlike in the classical oblique effect for contrast sensitivity, performance for precisely diagonal axes was better than that for surrounding axis orientations. Additional data (from experiments 2 and 3) also showed that the salience of vertical and horizontal axes of symmetry can be manipulated extensively by varying the range of stimuli presented, presumably by manipulating the scanning or attentional strategy adopted by the observer. Many previous studies of symmetry perception may have confounded hard-wired salience for vertical symmetry with scanning or attentional strategies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)221-236
    Number of pages16
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1994


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