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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.

Even my experiment is absolutely inspired by his own one, there are some differences. I can explore a bigger set of ratios doing an A/B test and I introduce the option I'm not sure. It makes this one a bit more complex and 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?


The project is available here There is also a post in Fronkonstin explaining it


The project is developed in R with 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

General Purpose Dependencies

These are dependencies used for internal operations and presentation tasks:

Running Instructions

Run the following commands in order to download the project:

$ git clone
$ R

Once inside R, run the following code (make sure all your dependencies are installed prior to this):


If everything goes smoothly, a web browser should open showing the project's main page.


Antonio Sánchez Chinchón:

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

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