Effects of Implied Motion and Facing Direction on Positional Preferences in Single Object Pictures


Palmer, Gardner, and Wickens studied aesthetic preferences for pictures of single objects and found a strong inward bias: Right-facing objects were preferred left-of-center and left-facing objects right of center. They found no effect of object motion (people and cars showed the same inward bias as chairs and teapots), but the objects were not depicted as moving. Here we measured analogous inward biases with objects depicted as moving with an implied direction and speed by having participants drag-and-drop target objects into the most aesthetically pleasing position. In Experiment 1, human figures were shown diving or falling while moving forward or backward. Aesthetic biases were evident for both inward facing and inward moving figures, but the motion-based bias dominated so strongly that backward divers or fallers were preferred moving inward but facing outward. Experiment 2 investigated implied speed effects using images of humans, horses, and cars moving at different speeds (e.g., standing, walking, trotting, and galloping horses). Inward motion or facing biases were again present, and differences in their magnitude due to speed were evident. Unexpectedly, faster moving objects were generally preferred closer to frame center than slower moving objects. These results are discussed in terms of the combined effects of prospective, future oriented biases, and retrospective, past oriented biases.

In Perception, 46(7), 815-829