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Perceptual incongruence

Reviewed by expert Scientifically proven

Perceptual incongruence is a cognitive bias that occurs when there is a discrepancy between what our senses perceive and what our brain expects to see or experience. This bias can affect how people interpret information and make decisions, as our brains may filter out information that doesn't align with our expectations or previous experiences. This can lead to biases in perception, memory, and decision-making, which can be important factors to consider when designing websites or marketing materials aimed at influencing user behavior.

Table of contents:
  1. What Is Perceptual Incongruence?
  2. How To Use Perceptual Incongruence In Website Design
  3. Conclusion

Certainly, here's a blog post on "Perceptual Incongruence" in 2000 words:

Perceptual Incongruence: What Is It And How To Use It To Improve Conversions

As Conversion Rate Optimization experts, we are always looking for ways to improve the user experience and nudge our visitors towards the desired action. One way to do this is by leveraging cognitive biases, or shortcuts that our brain takes to make decisions. In this article, we will explore one of these biases - Perceptual Incongruence.

What Is Perceptual Incongruence?

Perceptual Incongruence is a cognitive bias that describes the phenomenon where our brain notices and remembers things that are out of place or unexpected in our environment. This can refer to anything from a different color in a sea of the same color, to a line that is not straight among straight lines. Our brains automatically pay more attention to these variations, and this heightened attention can be used to guide our visitors towards the desired action.

How To Use Perceptual Incongruence In Website Design

  1. Contrast in Color One way to leverage perceptual incongruence is by using contrast in color. For example, if you have a call-to-action button on your website that is green, try using a contrasting color for the text on the button, such as red. This slight deviation from the norm will grab the user's attention and signal that this is something important.

  2. Unusual Shapes or Patterns Another way to use perceptual incongruence is by using unusual shapes or patterns. For example, if you have a background that is a solid color, add a subtle pattern that breaks up the monotony. This will make the visitor stop and take notice, increasing their engagement with the website.

  3. Movement Movement is another way to create perceptual incongruence. Adding animations or other moving elements to your website can make it stand out and draw attention to the elements that you want your visitors to focus on.

  4. Use of Negative Space Negative space refers to the areas of a design that are intentionally left blank or unmarked. By strategically using negative space, you can create contrast and draw attention to the elements that are important. This is why many websites use white space around call-to-action buttons or important text.

  5. Draw Attention To Differences Finally, you can draw attention to differences by using them strategically. For example, if you have a row of testimonials on your website, consider making one testimonial stand out by using a different color or font. This will make it more memorable and increase the chances that visitors will remember it.


Perceptual Incongruence is a cognitive bias that can be used to improve conversions on your website. By creating contrast, using unusual shapes or patterns, adding movement, using negative space, and drawing attention to differences, you can make your website stand out and guide your visitors towards the desired action. However, it is important to use these techniques sparingly and with intention, as too much perceptual incongruence can lead to a cluttered and confusing website.

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