Skip to main content
SLU publication database (SLUpub)

Research article2005Peer reviewed

Perceptual and Physiological Responses to the Visual Complexity of Fractal Patterns

Taylor, R P; Spehar, B; Wise, J A; Clifford, C W; Newell, B R; Purcell, T; Hägerhäll, Caroline


Fractals have experienced considerable success in quantifying the complex structure exhibited by many natural patterns and have captured the imagination of scientists and artists alike. With ever widening appeal, they have been referred to both as "fingerprints of nature" and "the new aesthetics.” Our research has shown that the drip patterns of the American abstract painter Jackson Pollock are fractal. In this paper, we consider the implications of this discovery. We first present an overview of our research from the past five years to establish a context for our current investigations of human response to fractals. We discuss results showing that fractal images generated by mathematical, natural and human processes possess a shared aesthetic quality based on visual complexity. In particular, participants in visual perception tests display a preference for fractals with mid-range fractal dimensions. We also present recent preliminary work based on skin conductance measurements that indicate that these mid-range fractals also affect the observer’s physiological condition and discuss future directions based on these results


fractals; aesthetics; visual perception

Published in

Nonlinear Dynamis, Psychology, and Life Sciences
2005, Volume: 9, number: 1, pages: 89-114
Publisher: Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology & Life Sciences

      SLU Authors

    • Hägerhäll, Caroline

      • Department of Landscape Planning Alnarp, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Landscape Architecture

    Permanent link to this page (URI)