Our brains just love symmetry! So much so that when we see a fine example of things just falling nicely into place just as they should, it satisfies us deep within our souls.
Of course, when we encounter the opposite – the wonky, the askew, the lop-sided – it triggers a vague feeling of discomfort. This reaction is stronger in some than in others, but even those of us who would consider themselves chill about imperfections can get fixated on certain mistakes.
Can’t understand what I mean? Well, as a follow up to previous efforts here and here, Bored Panda has collected another list of things that aren’t quite right and are sure to set the alarm bells ringing. Scroll down below to check them out for yourself, and let us know how they made you feel in the comments!
So what lies behind this fascination with all things symmetrical? Well, according to an article in HowStuffWorks, it comes from the fact that most objects in the real world are symmetrical. “This is particularly true of nature: the radial symmetry of starfish or flower petals, the symmetrical efficiency of a hexagonal honeycomb, or the uniquely symmetrical crystal patterns of a snowflake,” they write. “In fact asymmetry is often a sign of illness or danger in the natural world.”
“And, of course, human beings are symmetrical, at least on the outside (some internal organs like the heart and liver are off-center). Decades of research into sexual attraction have proven that both men and women find symmetrical faces sexier than asymmetrical ones. The leading explanation is that physical symmetry is an outward sign of good health, although large-scale studies have shown no significant health differences in people with symmetrical or asymmetrical faces.”
“The simple explanation for our attraction to symmetry is that it’s familiar. Symmetrical objects and images play by the rules that our brains are programmed to recognize easily.”
In an essay called The Symmetrical Universe, Alan Lightman, American physicist, writer, and author of The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew, writes:
“Symmetry leads to economy, and nature, like human beings, seem to prefer economy. If we think of nature as a vast ongoing experiment, constantly trying out different possibilities of design, then those designs that cost the least energy or that require the fewest different parts to come together at the right time will take precedence, just as the principle of natural selection says that organisms with the best ability to survive will dominate over time.”
So try to relax whilst perusing this list – your sense of discomfort or even anger at the asymmetry of things is fully justified, and is an appropriate human reaction to these design outrages. Good symmetry is good organization and our brains are hardwired to appreciate that!