The role of balance as an organizing design principle underlying adults' compositional strategies for creating visual displays

P.J. Locher, P.J. Stappers, C.J. Overbeeke

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    45 Citations (Scopus)
    2 Downloads (Pure)


    This study had two interrelated purposes, namely, to determine if balance influences the way adults create visual displays and to subject theoretical notions of pictorial balance to experimental scrutiny. Adult volunteers made four designs, one each from circles, squares, rectangles, or leaves of different sizes. A videotape recording of the development of each design from start to completion was used to create a digitized record of its image at 10% intervals of the time taken for its completion. It was found that, regardless of element type or phase of construction, the center of a design was closely aligned with the geometric center of the pictorial field demonstrating the power of the center of a square field to function as an "anchor" or balancing point about which a design's structural skeleton is organized. The ordering strategy used by participants to organize the elements of a composition about its balancing center was influenced by their shape characteristics and orientation potential. Structural weight was evenly distributed (balanced) about the center of the circle designs throughout their construction; an imaginary horizontal–vertical grid served as the structural skeleton for the creation of designs composed of squares and rectangles, and participants manipulated directionality of leaf elements to create an organized global design within the pictorial field. Finally, evidence of the visual salience of dynamic balance is provided by the finding that viewers were able to perceive subtle differences measured quantitatively in the distribution of physical weight about the axes of balanced compositions. Theoretical speculation concerning the nature of pictorial balance is discussed in light of the present findings.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)141-161
    JournalActa psychologica
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


    Dive into the research topics of 'The role of balance as an organizing design principle underlying adults' compositional strategies for creating visual displays'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this