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Understanding The Psychology Of Shapes To Design Better

July 30, 2019 |
Blog, Design, UX, Virtual Reality, Web Design
Psychology Of Shapes

Perception plays a critical role in the success of any visual component. How people perceive a thing, makes a lot of difference. Many factors are influencing human perception, and one of the most critical factors in psychology. It is paramount for designers to understand users, and apply psychological principles in design for creating a successful design. in this article, we will understand how the ‘psychology of shapes’ help designers to be more creative and create a fantastic user experience.

Understanding The Psychology of Shapes

It is possible to perceive and analyze every visual element in terms of shape. If you wish to design a house icon, the instant thought is a rectangle with a triangle on the top. That’s the most basic way of how it is perceived. Figures and shapes have a significant impact on our awareness and conduct. ‘Psychology of shapes’ is the science studying the influence of shapes on people.

‘Psychology of shape’ suggests that every shape has a meaning attached to it, which influences our mind and reactions differently. There are many theories based on psychological tests which define the personality or mental state through shapes. A person’s liking towards a particular shape or figure can reveal their personality and character traits. Similarly, quick response to shapes can tell what’s on the mind.

Research and tests conducted over the years have helped professionals to establish meanings of each shape and how it can influence human perception.

Meaning of Shapes

Shapes usually refer to geometric figures like squares, circles, rectangles, etc.

Squares and Rectangles

These two shapes are the most widely used shapes. We see them numerous times a day. Majority of the common things that we use every day, like our smartphones, walls, furniture, books, monitors, etc. are square or rectangular in shape. The straight lines and 90° angles of these two shapes offer a sense of reliability and security. People strongly associate squares and rectangles with buildings, as they bring a sense of trust and authority.

Common meanings: discipline strength courage security reliability

Circles, Ovals, and Ellipses

These shapes best portray the sense of eternity as they have no beginning or end. Majority of the cosmic objects, including the sun, the moon, and the earth, relate to a circle. Similarly, the ellipse is similar to the whole universe. That’s why round shapes provide the feeling of magic, mystery, and secrecy. Unlike other shapes, circles don’t have angles, so it makes them softer and milder.

Common meanings: eternity female universe magic mystery.


Triangle is a dynamic, energetic, active and powerful shape which that associates with motion and direction. The placement of lines automatically moves the eyes to the top of a triangle or in the direction of its placement. Although, triangles can have different meanings basis its placement and position. An upright triangle brings the feelings of stability and balance, while the reversed one evokes feelings of risk, instability, and uncertainty.

Common meanings: excitement risk danger balance stability.


These shapes exist in nature, like in shells and some flowers. Spirals often co-relate with the circle of life and depict a journey or growth. In some cultures, spirals represent knowledge or information. In today’s world, spirals depict creativity and a fresh mind.

Common meanings: growth creativity calmness intelligence.

Abstract shapes

The simplified versions of natural shapes and complex ideas are abstract shapes. As abstract shapes are generally stylized, they are difficult to recognize, and only small details give a hint to what it is. They mostly have more than one meaning – direct and figurative. Designers use abstract shapes to design logos and icons. These shapes quickly and powerfully convey the message, without text.

Common meanings: the duality of meaning uniqueness elaborate.

Natural shapes

Everything created by mother nature has a unique shape. Leaves, flowers, animals, trees, etc. become the source of inspiration for artists and designers. Natural shapes have an apparent meaning for plants and animals which they symbolize. There’s a feeling of refreshment and unity attached with the natural shapes. In addition, different animals and plants have their own personalities and features. A rose is a flower associated with love and passion, while a lion is a symbol of pride and bravery.

Common meanings: originality organic balance refreshment.

Shapes are quintessential elements in all kinds of designs. To make a sophisticated, intuitive and pleasing design, experts need to consider the meaning of shapes and the impact which they have on users’ mind. Discuss more with our team of expert designers to get a better understanding.

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