For more than a century, psychologists have been interested in how visual information can arouse emotions. Several studies have shown that rounded shapes evoke positive feelings due to their link with happy/baby-like expressions, compared with sharp angular shapes, usually associated with anger and threatening objects having negative valence. However, to date, no-one has investigated the preference to associate simple geometric shapes to personal identities, including one's own, that of a close acquainted, or that of a stranger. Through 2 online surveys we asked participants to associate a geometric shape, chosen among a circle, a square and a triangle, to each of three identities, namely "you" (the self), "your best friend" or "a stranger". We hypothesized that the circle would be more associated with the self, the square with the friend and the triangle with the stranger. Moreover, we investigated whether these associations are modulated by 3 personality traits: aggressivity, social fear and empathy. As predicted, we found that participants associate more often the circle with the self, both the circle and the square with the best friend, whereas they matched angular shapes (both the triangle and the square) to the stranger. On the other hand, the possibility that personality traits can modulate such associations was not confirmed. The study of how people associate geometric figures with the self or with other identities giving them an implicit socio-affective connotation, is interesting for all the disciplines interested in the automatic affective processes activated by visual stimuli.

The shape of you: do individuals associate particular geometric shapes with identity?

Manippa, Valerio
;
Tommasi, Luca
2021-01-01

Abstract

For more than a century, psychologists have been interested in how visual information can arouse emotions. Several studies have shown that rounded shapes evoke positive feelings due to their link with happy/baby-like expressions, compared with sharp angular shapes, usually associated with anger and threatening objects having negative valence. However, to date, no-one has investigated the preference to associate simple geometric shapes to personal identities, including one's own, that of a close acquainted, or that of a stranger. Through 2 online surveys we asked participants to associate a geometric shape, chosen among a circle, a square and a triangle, to each of three identities, namely "you" (the self), "your best friend" or "a stranger". We hypothesized that the circle would be more associated with the self, the square with the friend and the triangle with the stranger. Moreover, we investigated whether these associations are modulated by 3 personality traits: aggressivity, social fear and empathy. As predicted, we found that participants associate more often the circle with the self, both the circle and the square with the best friend, whereas they matched angular shapes (both the triangle and the square) to the stranger. On the other hand, the possibility that personality traits can modulate such associations was not confirmed. The study of how people associate geometric figures with the self or with other identities giving them an implicit socio-affective connotation, is interesting for all the disciplines interested in the automatic affective processes activated by visual stimuli.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11564/766707
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