Preference at First Sight: Effects of Shape and Font Qualities on Evaluation of Object-Word Pairs

Olivia S. Cheung, Oliver Heyn, Tobiasz Trawiński

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Subjective preferences for visual qualities of shapes and fonts have been separately re-ported. Such preferences are often similarly attributed to factors such as aesthetic impressions, attributed meaning from the visual properties, or processing fluency. Because shapes and fonts were rarely studied together, we investigated whether these qualities had a similar impact on preference judgment of object-word pairs. Each pair consisted of an abstract object with either preferred or disliked shape qualities and a pseudoword with either preferred or disliked font qualities. We found that only shape qualities, but not font qualities, influenced preference ratings of the object-word pairs, with higher preferences for pairs with preferred than disliked shapes. Moreover, eye movement results indicated that while participants fixated the word before the object, their prolonged fixation on the object when first attending to it might have contributed to the preference ratings. Nonetheless, other measures, including response times, total fixation numbers, and total dwell time, showed different patterns for shape and font qualities, revealing that participants attended more to objects with preferred than disliked shapes, and to words with disliked than preferred fonts. Taken together, these results suggest that shape and font qualities have differential influences on preferences and processing of objects and words.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number22
JournalVision (Switzerland)
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2022


  • category
  • eye movement
  • font
  • preference
  • shape

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Optometry
  • Sensory Systems
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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