Preference for Curvilinear Contour in Interior Architectural Spaces: Evidence from Experts and Nonexperts

Oshin Vartanian, Gorka Navarrete, Anjan Chatterjee, Lars Brorson Fich, Helmut Leder, Cristián Modroño, Nicolai Rostrup, Martin Skov, Guido Corradi, Marcos Nadal

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Much evidence suggests that preference for curvilinear visual contour is robust. We collected data from experts (i.e., self-identified architects and designers) and nonexperts to test the hypothesis that expertise moderates one's sensitivity to curvilinear contour within architectural spaces. When assessing beauty, experts found rectilinear spaces less beautiful than curvilinear spaces, whereas contour had no effect on beauty judgments among nonexperts. In contrast, when making approach-avoidance decisions, nonexperts were more likely to opt to enter curvilinear than rectilinear spaces, whereas contour had no effect on approach-avoidance decisions among experts. These results bolster the case for the importance of contour as an important and potentially adaptive feature in architecture and design, but stress the impact of expertise on its aesthetic and motivational relevance.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Architecture
  • Design
  • Contour
  • Angularity
  • Expertise

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