The Pleasing Ratio Project

This serious man on the left is Gustav Theodor Fechner, a German philosopher, physicist and experimental psychologist who lived between 1801 and 1887. To be honest, I don't know almost anything of his life or work exepct one thing: he did in the 1860s a thought-provoking experiment. It seems me interesting for two important reasons: he called into question something widely established and obtained experimental data by himself.

Fechners's experiment was simpler than this one: he presented just ten rectangles to 82 students. Then he asked each of them to choose the most pleasing one and obtained revealing discoveries I will not explain here since would cause bias in my experiment.

Although my experiment is absolutely inspired in Fechner’s one, there is a important difference: I can explore a bigger set of ratios doing an A/B test. This makes this one a bit richer.

The experiment has also interesting technical features: the use of shinydashboard package to arrange the App, the use of shinyjs package to add javaScript to refresh page when use choose to play again, to save votes in a text file and to read it to visualize results.

You can find more information about the original experiment here.

Will I obtain the same results as Fechner?

Built With

The project is developed with R and the following packages:

  • Shiny - To build the web App
  • shinyjs - To improve the Shiny apps with some JavaScript
  • shinydashboard - Used to give the App a dashboard appearance
  • ggplot2 - To create the rectangles


Antonio Sánchez Chinchón:

The code is licensed under the MIT License and is available in Github

Following you will find two rectangles. Both of them have the same area. They only vary in their length-to-width ratios. You just need to select the one that seems you most pleasing.

This game may seem you a nonsense but it isn't. Check out The Project section to know the goal of the experiment behind it. Thanks!

Option A

Option B

Thank you!