The relation between symmetry in food packaging and approach and avoidance words

Carlos Velasco, Abhishek Pathak, Andy T Woods, Andres Corredor, Andrew J Elliot

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research on aesthetic science has demonstrated that people generally prefer symmetrical over asymmetrical compositions. However, it remains unclear whether and how such compositions relate to the concepts of approach and avoidance motivation, especially in consumer contexts. In addition, it is not known how symmetry may influence such concepts in contexts where objects can differ in terms of their hedonic values (symmetry/product taste congruency). In the present research, we evaluated the relation between visual symmetry of the packaging of products with different hedonic value (sweet, non-sweet, non-food) and approach and avoidance words. In two experiments, we found evidence that people associate symmetrical designs with approach words more often than asymmetrical designs. Importantly, however, we did not find evidence that such an effect is influenced by the hedonic value of the products. Our results have value for scholars and practitioners interested in the effect of aesthetic features of brand elements (such as a product's packaging) on consumer motivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)654-663
Number of pages10
JournalThe Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Adult
  • Choice Behavior/physiology
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Esthetics
  • Female
  • Food Packaging
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motivation/physiology
  • Pleasure/physiology
  • Space Perception/physiology
  • Visual Perception/physiology
  • Young Adult

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