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Oblong

Updated: Feb 7

A general bias favoring oblong things leads to an oblong effect in our decorative surroundings and the appearance of animals. Visually attractive objects are often made to be not too long, but not too short, not quite spherical or square, but elongated somewhat along one or another axis. Being oblong apparently makes an object more complex, moderate and likable from our perspective, and the effect can be seen more generally in the shapes that animals choose each other to have through sexual selection and the shapes that fruits and flowers take in the process of amusing animals. Flower petals, fruits like strawberries, pears and pumpkins, nuts, beans, eggs, eyespots in peafowl and butterflies, eggspots in cichlids, spatulate feathers in the Marvelous Spatuletail (Loddigesia mirabilis), the shape assumed by the Superb Bird-of-Paradise (Lophorina superba) during its mating dance, ancient amphitheaters, human heads, human eyes and animal bodies in general appear to exhibit the oblong effect to some extent. Within human culture moderately elongated aesthetic visual objects include most paintings, photos, phones, computers, TV’s, badges, sheilds, coats of arms, various candy containers and candies, tombstones, Stonehenge stones, Easter Island stone figures, rugs, windows, books and footballs. The longer an object becomes the more exciting we find it, the rounder it is the less exciting, and a rectangular or oval-shaped object represents a mixture we appreciate. Oblongness appears widely in creation stories as a "cosmic egg," including the Ancient Greek Orphic Egg, the Chinese Daoist Egg of Pangu, the Egyptian Cosmic Egg of Ra, the Japanese Egg of Chaos and the Golden Egg in the Vedic tradition.


Projections such as horns, tails and hair can be paired with round objects to counteract their unexciting roundness instead of them being elongated. Bright coloration is also treated as an acceptable alternative to being aesthetically oblong. Longer objects are more likable with dark coloration and rounded ones are more likable with bright colors. Teletubbies illustrate this in that they get darker with length. Tinky Winky, the longest (tallest) one, is purple (darkest), the second longest is green, the second roundest (shortest) is yellow and the roundest, Po, is red. Oblong bias may relate to the prevalence of the golden rectangle in objects under aesthetic selection.


Disruptions of roundness

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