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Haptics plays an important role in emotion perception. However, most studies of the affective aspects of haptics have investigated emotional valence rather than emotional categories. In the present study, we explored the associations of different textures with six basic emotions: fear, anger, happiness, disgust, sadness and surprise. Participants touched twenty-one different textures and evaluated them using six emotional scales. Additionally, we explored whether individual differences in participants' levels of alexithymia are related to the intensity of emotions associated with touching the textures. Alexithymia is a trait related to difficulties in identifying, describing and communicating emotions to others. The findings show that people associated touching different textures with distinct emotions. Textures associated with each of the basic emotions were identified. The study also revealed that a higher alexithymia level corresponds to a higher intensity of associations between textures and the emotions of disgust, anger and sadness.
Emotions associated with different textures during touch
Marina Iosifyan 1, Olga Korolkova 2,3
1 – National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Street, 101000,
Moscow, Russia
2 – Brunel University London, College of Health and Life Sciences, Department of Life Sciences,
Kingston Lane, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 3PH, United Kingdom
3 – Moscow State University of Psychology and Education, Centre for Experimental Psychology, 2a
Shelepikhinskaya Quay, 123290, Moscow, Russia
Corresponding author: Marina Iosifyan,, National Research
University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Street, 101000, Moscow, Russia
Emotions associated with different textures during touch
Haptics plays an important role in emotion perception. However, most studies of the affective
aspects of haptics have investigated emotional valence rather than emotional categories. In the
present study, we explored the associations of different textures with six basic emotions: fear, anger,
happiness, disgust, sadness and surprise. Participants touched twenty-one different textures and
evaluated them using six emotional scales. Additionally, we explored whether individual differences
in participantslevels of alexithymia are related to the intensity of emotions associated with
touching the textures. Alexithymia is a trait related to difficulties in identifying, describing and
communicating emotions to others. The findings show that people associated touching different
textures with distinct emotions. Textures associated with each of the basic emotions were identified.
The study also revealed that a higher alexithymia level corresponds to a higher intensity of
associations between textures and the emotions of disgust, anger and sadness.
Keywords: haptics; emotion; touch; emotion intensity; alexithymia
Most studies of the emotional aspects of touch explored the pleasantness of touching
In this study, we explored how touching textures is associated with basic emotions
We found that people associate distinct emotions with textures while touching them
1. Introduction
The haptic modality provides a substantial contribution to generating and modifying
emotions (Gallace & Spence, 2010). We extensively use haptics in social communication when we
want to express gratitude, dominance or support (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1989; Suvilehto et al., 2015).
Social affective touch, such as consoling touch, has both neural and behavioral specificities (Peled-
Avron et al., 2017). Touch communication between mothers and infants, as well as the petting of
animals, is related to reduced stress (Feldman et al., 2010; Jenkins, 1986; Lass-Hennemann et al.,
2014; Stack & Muir, 1990). Touching some inanimate objects and textures can also be associated
with pleasant feelings, while touching others induces unpleasant ones (Etzi et al., 2014, 2016).
The importance of conveying different aspects of emotions through haptics has been
recognized in an increasing number of studies (see Gallace & Spence, 2010). Most studies
investigating affective haptics have explored how touch can communicate a positive or negative
valence of emotions (Ackerley et al., 2014; Croy et al., 2016; Essick et al., 2010; Löken et al.,
2009), as well as the parameters of a stimulus that contribute to the pleasantness of touch (Essick et
al., 2010). In particular, empirical studies have shown that a textures softness and smoothness
correlate with the pleasantness of touching it (Ekman et al., 1965; Major, 1895; Verrillo et al., 1999).
Other studies have investigated unpleasantness and negative affects in touch, such as painful
sensations (Fernandez & Turk, 1992; Field, 2010). Unpleasant sensations of touch have been widely
investigated in relation to individual differences, such as autism spectrum disorders (Cascio et al.,
2008; Jones et al., 2009).
Despite the large number of studies exploring valence in touch, less focus has been given to
the perception of distinct emotions (such as anger, fear or happiness) in haptics. Researchers have
shown that people can communicate and accurately decode such emotions as anger, fear, disgust,
love, gratitude and sympathy via social touch (Hertenstein et al., 2006; 2009; Kirsch et al., 2018).
Other studies have shown that tactile surfaces are associated with words related to emotional states
(Etzi et al., 2016; Iosifyan, Korolkova & Vlasov, 2017). In the current study, we investigated
whether different textures might be associated with six basic emotions: fear, anger, happiness,
disgust, sadness and surprise (Ekman, 1993). These emotions can be readily recognized across other
modalities, such as vision and audio, via facial expressions (Ekman, 1993), body posture (Van den
Stock, Righart, & de Gelder, 2007), emotional speech (de Gelder & Vroomen, 2000), non-verbal
vocalizations (Sauter, Eisner, Ekman, & Scott, 2010) and music (Mohn, Argstatter, & Wilker, 2011);
to our knowledge, however, there have been no studies of the possible association of basic emotions
and textures experienced through touch.
Studies of emotion processing in the visual and auditory modalities have revealed that
individual differences can play a substantial role in emotion perception (Hamann & Canli, 2004;
Martins et al., 2017). In the present study, we focused on individual differences in alexithymia
levels. Alexithymia is a personality construct based on difficulties in emotion processing and
communicating emotions to others (McDonald & Prkachin, 1990; Taylor, Bagby & Parker, 1997).
People with high levels of alexithymia have more difficulty in recognizing emotional expressions
(Lane et al., 1996; Parker, Prkachin & Prkachin, 2005). In particular, they demonstrate diminished
perception of facial expressions of some but not all negative emotions: sadness, anger and
fear (Prkachin, Casey & Prkachin, 2009). There are also differences in the perception of emotion
intensity that are related to alexithymia (Cecchetto, Rumiati & Aiello, 2017). However, the majority
of these findings connect alexithymia to the visual, auditory and olfactory modalities, and little is
known about the processing of emotions conveyed by tactile stimuli in alexithymia. In the current
study, we tested the hypothesis that a persons alexithymia level is related to emotion intensity in the
haptic modality.
In the current study we aimed to answer several questions: 1) Are textures associated with
the basic emotions when they are touched? 2) Does the intensity of these emotions differ? 3) Is a
persons alexithymia level related to the perceived emotion intensity?
We used a paradigm of active touch (participants actively explore textures with their palms
and fingers) instead of passive touch (a texture is moved against the participants skin). Firstly, on
the behavioral level, active touch allows for a more selective and controlled way of encoding tactile
stimulus properties (Chapman, 1994; Lederman & Klatzky, 1987). Secondly, on the neural level,
active touch elicits greater activation in the primary somatosensory region and does not differ from
passive touch in the secondary somatosensory region (Simoes-Franklin, Whitaker & Newell, 2011).
Thirdly, we supposed that active exploration of tactile stimuli is a more ecological task, close to real
life experience, compared to passive touch wherein a participant does not perform any actions.
2. Method
2.1 Participants
One hundred and eight participants took part in the study (age range: 1847 years, Mage =
21.37, SD = 4.37, 22 males). Participants were recruited at the Lomonosov University campus and
received course credit in return for their participation. Participants had normal tactile sensitivity by
self-report and no mental disorders. Six of them were left-handed by self-report and performed the
study task with their left hands, while others were right-handed. Participants gave informed written
consent prior to taking part in the study. The study was carried out in accordance with The Code of
Ethics of the World Medical Association (Declaration of Helsinki). It was approved by
the Ethical Committee of the Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences.
2.2 Materials
Twenty-one different tactile surfaces were used as stimuli. Prior to the selection of the
textures, we performed an online survey asking a separate group of participants (N = 54, Mage = 25,
46 women) what tactile sensations or textures might elicit happiness, fear, disgust, anger, surprise,
shame, interest, contempt, tenderness and sadness in them. The highest-frequency answers were
used to select textures for the main study. The following materials were selected: natural silk, velvet,
rabbit fur (these textures potentially represented the emotion of happiness, based on the online
survey in which participants indicated that something fluffy and soft can elicit happiness in them); a
piece of an acupressure mat, embedded with hard plastic disks containing protruding spikes (for
fear, which can be elicited by something sharp and hard); toy slime (slimy viscous liquid polymer),
plasticine, clay (for disgust, elicited by something slimy and sticky); sandpaper, sponge (for anger,
elicited by tough and rough textures); glass pebbles (rounded pebbles), glass seashells (for surprise,
elicited by something convex and protuberant); polished marble, granite, glass (for sadness, elicited
by something smooth, polished and hard). Wooden block (unpolished), wood (spruce, polished),
rubber, leather, concrete, brick and tile were included as potentially neutral textures (see Figure 1).
All textures varied in smoothness and hardness, according to the two main dimensions of touch
experience (see Hollins et al., 1993; Picard et al., 2003; Yoshida, 1968).
Figure 1. Twenty-one items with different textures used in the study (from left to right: brick, granite, glass, glass
seashells, plasticine, leather, fur, sponge, rubber, velvet, silk, wood (spruce), acupressure mat, wooden block, tile, glass
pebbles, sandpaper, marble, concrete, toy slime, clay).
2.3 Procedure
The experiment was performed individually in a laboratory room in daylight. Participants
were seated in front of a table resting their right arm (if right-handed) on it. The experimenter was
seated at a distance of 50 cm to the right to deliver the tactile stimulation. Participants wore an eye
mask and thus could not see the textures they touched during the entire task, in order to eliminate
visual cues. The experimenter placed a texture block (9 x 9 cm) on the table in front of the
participant and instructed him/her to touch it with their fingers and palm. Soft textures (fur, silk,
etc.) were previously applied to the wooden blocks. To avoid any possible effect of sequences, the
textures were presented in random order. During the touch, participants were asked to rate each
texture using six evaluative scales from 0 (not at all associated with an emotion) to 5 (very much
associated with an emotion). The experimenter named an emotion (e.g., surprise) and recorded the
verbal score given by the participant when asked how much the texture is associated with the named
emotion. The value 1 (weakly associated with the emotion) was considered the baseline for emotion
association. Each texture was presented once. The experimental session lasted about 30 minutes.
After evaluating all 21 materials, participants were asked to complete the Toronto
Alexithymia Scale (TAS-26; Taylor et al., 1985), translated and validated on a Russian population
(Eres'ko et al., 2005). The TAS-26 is a self-report scale that measures alexithymia as a trait related to
an inability to describe emotions to others and to distinguish between physical sensations and
feelings. It includes 26 statements evaluated on a five-point Likert scale (1 strongly disagree, 5
strongly agree). A total TAS score greater or equal to 62 is considered to reflect a low level of
alexithymia; a total score greater or equal to 74 is considered to indicate a high level of alexithymia;
a total score between 63 and 73 is considered inconclusive (Eres'ko et al., 2005; Taylor et al., 2003).
Sixteen participants did not complete the TAS and were excluded from the analysis of alexithymia
effects on emotion intensity.
2.4 Statistical analysis
The data for texture evaluation and TAS scores were both tested for normality using the one-
sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov test. Although the TAS scores were distributed normally, the texture
evaluation data were not (Kolmogorov-Smirnov test, p < .05); therefore, we used non-parametric
statistics to analyze the data. Overall, we performed four separate analyses to test our hypotheses.
To investigate whether there were any differences between the textures on each emotional
scale, we used the one-way non-parametric analysis of variance (Friedman test). Six separate tests
were performed, comparing the ratings of all textures on each one of the six emotions. In order to
take into account multiple comparisons, only the p-values lower than .008 were considered as
significant (Bonferroni correction).
To investigate which textures were significantly associated with each of the six emotions, the
following analysis strategy was used. A texture was considered to be associated with a specific
emotion only if the average intensity of the association was significantly higher than 1 (a significant
Wilcoxon rank-sum test with a p-value < .001). Otherwise, the texture was not considered to be
associated with this emotion. Only textures significantly associated with at least one of the six basic
emotions were used in further analysis.
To investigate the differences between the intensity ratings of the six emotions across all
textures, the Friedman analysis of variance was used. To further investigate these differences,
Dunns pairwise post hoc tests with Bonferroni correction were conducted.
Finally, we investigated how alexithymia is related to the intensity ratings of the basic
emotions. An alexithymia score was calculated for each participant and entered as a variable in the
correlation analysis. We calculated the correlations between alexithymia scores and the intensity of
each of the six basic emotions (evaluations of the textures as associated with fear, anger, happiness,
disgust, sadness and surprise). Because the data were not distributed normally, we used non-
parametric correlations and reported the results of two-tailed Spearmans correlation coefficient
tests. Statistical analysis was performed in SPSS (IBM, Armonk, Version 25.0, 2017) and R (R Core
Team, 2013).
3. Results
3.1 Effects of emotional evaluation on textures
Friedman tests comparing the average levels of emotion intensity across textures were
significant for each emotional scale: happiness (χ(20)2 = 441.58, p <.0001), fear (χ(20)2 = 343.86, p
<.0001), disgust (χ(20)2 = 510.26, p <.0001), anger (χ(20)2 = 338.36, p <.0001), surprise (χ(20)2 =
395.16, p <.0001), sadness (χ(20)2 = 120.19, p <.0001). That means that there are differences
between the textures in terms of how they are emotionally evaluated. We next investigated which
textures were significantly associated with each of the six emotions.
Thirteen textures were associated with happiness; eight textures were associated with fear;
six textures were associated with disgust; four textures were associated with anger; nine textures
were associated with sadness; and all textures were associated with surprise. Overall, all textures
were associated with some emotion. Some textures were associated with specific emotions (e.g.,
marble is mainly associated with sadness, fur is mainly associated with happiness), while others
were associated with several emotions (e.g., a sponge is associated with fear, disgust and anger).
Table 1 shows the medians and interquartile ranges for the textures associated with six emotions
significantly higher than 1 (a significant Wilcoxon rank-sum test with a p-value < .001).
Table 1. Medians and interquartile ranges of emotional ratings of textures
Fear Disgust Anger Surprise Sadness
Acupressure mat 3 (2) 2 (3.75) 3 (2.75) 3 (3)
Plasticine 2 (3) 4 (2) 1 (2.75) 3 (2)
Fur 4 (2) − − 3 (2)
Sandpaper 2 (2) 2 (4) 2 (1) 2 (2)
Velvet 4 (2) − − 2 (2)
Rubber 2 (3) − − 2 (3)
Toy slime 1 (3) 2 (4) 4 (3) 4 (2)
Leather 2 (3) − − 2 (2)
Silk 3 (2) − − 2 (2) 1 (3)
Clay 1 (2) 2 (2) 3 (1.75)
Glass 2 (3) 1 (3) − − 2 (2) 2 (3)
Wood 2 (3) − − 2 (3) 1 (3)
Wooden block 2 (2) − − 1 (3) 1 (3)
Marble − − − 1 (2) 2 (3)
Concrete 2 (3) − − 1 (3) 1 (3)
Brick − − − 1.5 (3) 2 (3)
Tile 2 (3) − − 2 (2.75) 1 (3)
Glass pebbles 3(2) − − 3 (2)
Granite 2 (3) 1.5 (3) 2 (4)
Glass seashells 2 (3) − − 3 (2.75)
Sponge 3 (2) 2 (3) 3 (4) 3 (2.75)
Total 2 (3) 1 (3) 1 (3) 1 (2) 2 (3) 1 (3)
Note. Interquartile ranges are designated in round brackets. The scale ranged from 0 (not at all associated with the
emotion) to 5 (very much associated with the emotion).
3.2 Effects of emotion type on emotion intensity
There was a significant difference between intensity ratings of the six emotions: (χ(5)2 =
49.53, p <.001). Dunns pairwise tests revealed differences between sadness intensity and the
intensity of the other five emotions (p < .05, adjusted using the Bonferroni correction): sadness was
less intense compared to anger (p < .001), fear (p = .017), disgust (p < .001), surprise (p = .001) and
happiness (p = .001); see Figure 2. There was also a difference between the intensity of disgust and
fear (p < .001, adjusted using the Bonferroni correction): the intensity of disgust was greater
compared to the intensity of fear (see Figure 2).
anger disgust fear happinesssadness surprise
Figure 2. Medians, interquartile ranges and full ranges of intensity ratings of six emotions associated with touching
3.3 Effects of alexithymia on emotion intensity
The mean TAS level across participants was 58.14 (SD = 9.77). Spearmans correlation
analysis between TAS level and emotion intensity revealed that alexithymia correlated significantly
with disgust intensity (rho = .109, p = .020), anger intensity (rho = .107, p = .043) and sadness
intensity (rho = .094, p = .007). No significant correlations were found with surprise intensity (rho =
.009, p = .688), happiness intensity (rho = .044, p = .135) or fear intensity (rho = .046, p = .217).
Higher levels of alexithymia were therefore associated with higher intensities of disgust, anger and
4. Discussion
The present study investigated whether different textures are associated with any of six basic
emotions. In an online survey, participants named tactile sensations and textures that can elicit
particular emotions in them. Based on the most frequently named sensations, we selected 21 textures
that can potentially be associated with basic emotions. In a lab-based experiment, a separate group
of participants touched these textures and evaluated them on six emotional scales. As a result, we
revealed a set of textures associated with six basic emotions. The emotion of surprise differed from
the other emotions, because all textures were associated with it. This might be related to the fact that
the participants did not see the textures and did not have any prior visual knowledge about them.
The associations between textures and emotions can partly be explained by the role of
temperature and softness/roughness in pleasure. The textures varied in temperature and this fact
might have an impact on associations between them and emotions. Concerning roughness, previous
studies showed that soft and gentle touch sensations are associated with pleasantness, while
roughness is correlated with unpleasantness (Major, 1895; Zampini et al., 2003), Indeed, our soft
materials, such as fur, velvet, silk and leather, were associated with the positive emotion of
happiness; rough materials such as sandpaper, an acupressure mat and a wire sponge were associated
with negative emotions (fear, anger and disgust). However, participants softness/roughness and
temperature ratings would need to be studied further to confirm these suggestions.
However, softness and roughness cannot fully explain the associations between textures and
basic emotions: toy slime and plasticine are not rough, but they were associated with fear and
disgust; glass pebbles are not soft, but they were associated with happiness; smooth rather than
rough materials (e.g., silk, marble, granite) were associated with sadness. Another possible
explanation is that textures might be related to emotions because of the objects associated with these
textures (e.g., marble, concrete and granite are associated with monuments, which are often
dedicated to dead people and found at cemeteries, and therefore are associated with sadness). This
supposition can be in line with the ecological valence theory, which postulates that associations with
objects explain color preferences (Palmer & Schloss, 2010). However, the present study did not aim
to explain the nature of affective associations with textures, and in particular whether they are
mediated by conceptual knowledge and categorization; future studies may aim to do that. The main
aim of the present study was to provide evidence that while touching different textures, people
associate distinct emotions with them.
In addition, the study found that there are differences in the intensity of emotional
associations with textures. This might indicate that people recognize some emotions (e.g., disgust)
via touch more readily compared to other emotions (e.g., sadness).
Another finding concerns the role of individual differences in alexithymia in associating
emotions with textures. A higher level of alexithymia was related to a higher perceived intensity of
disgust, anger and sadness. This result is consistent with previously found differences in negative
emotion perception (particularly, fear and anger) among people with high and low levels of
alexithymia (Prkachin, Casey & Prkachin, 2008; Scarpazza et al., 2014). However, it was supposed
that the perceived intensity of emotions is lower among people with alexithymia, while our study
found the contrary. Our finding can be explained from the perspective of hyperarousal theory, which
supposes that the mechanism of alexithymia is associated with higher emotional reactivity (Martin
& Pihl, 1986). Some empirical studies found support for this hypothesis in the visual and olfactory
perception of emotions (Eastabrook, Lanteigne & Hollenstein, 2013; Lombion et al., 2010). Our
study supports the hyperarousal theory in the haptic modality. Moreover, Hosoi and colleagues
(2010) showed that perceived pain intensity is higher among people with higher levels of
alexithymia. This might support the idea of enhanced perception of negative affective states among
people with alexithymia. To our knowledge, this is the first study investigating the role of
alexithymia in associating emotions with textures.
There are some important limitations in the present study. Firstly, the velocity at which the
palm and fingers contacted the textures and the indenting force were not controlled. It is possible
that velocity and indenting force impacted the emotional evaluation of textures (Cascio et al., 2008;
Essick et al., 1999). Secondly, while touching the textures, participants did not wear earplugs, and
thus auditory stimulation was not eliminated. It is possible that some auditory clues might have
impacted the textures evaluation. For example, rough textures may generate rough sounds when
stroked and these sounds may evoke emotional associations of their own. Finally, only 22 males
participated in this study, which limited us in investigating any gender effects on emotional
associations with textures. Studies show that there are gender differences in emotion intensity
perception (Biele & Grabowska, 2006; Hoffmann et al., 2010; Mandal & Palchoudhury 1985; Rotter
& Rotter 1988; Wagner et al., 1986). Future research may address this issue in haptic emotional
perception. It would also be interesting to further investigate whether textures might be positively or
negatively valenced depending on whether participants could see them or at least know what it was
that they were touching.
To conclude, the study extends the literature on the perception of emotion in three ways.
First, it provides evidence that while touching different textures, people perceive not only their
valence, but also distinct emotions associated with them. Secondly, it identified the textures
significantly associated with six basic emotions, which can be further used to investigate the
perception of emotions via touch. Thirdly, it showed that individual differences in alexithymia levels
are related to the intensity of negative emotional associations with some textures.
From a basic perspective, the set of textures we developed, together with their emotional
ratings, might be of interest to researchers who investigate emotional responsiveness to textures, and
want to use textures associated with basic emotions or neutral textures. While there are several sets
of normative emotional stimuli for experimental investigations of emotion in vision and audition
(Bradley & Lang, 2007; Lang, Bradley & Cuthbert, 2008), there is a lack of such sets in haptics.
Although the use of exactly the same physical stimuli by other haptics researchers is not as easy as
the use of digital images in the visual modality or digital sounds in the auditory modality, the
description of our dataset and their emotional ratings might be useful in conducting further studies in
the haptic modality. From an applied perspective, these findings can be used in product design in
order to produce particular expectations among customers (Gallace & Spence, 2014; Spence, 2014;
Spence & Gallace, 2011).
Acknowledgments. The authors thank Andrey Kiselnikov for his kind assistance in research
organization. The authors thank Oksana Zinchenko for her kind assistance in the recruitment of
Funding. This work was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research Grant #18-013-
Con$ict of interest. The authors declare no conflict of interest.
Data access statement. Data directly supporting the publication can be found at
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... Distinct emotional states can be communicated via touch (Hertenstein et al., 2006). Iosifyan and Korolkova (2019) examined the effect of alexithymia on emotion perception during touching of different textures. Healthy participants touched 21 tactile surfaces (e.g., sandpaper, velvet, or toy slime) and evaluated how much the textures were associated with six basic emotions. ...
... This might explain the differences between findings. Iosifyan and Korolkova (2019) analyzed the touching of textures. In this case, perception is achieved through the active exploration of surfaces by a moving subject (haptic perception). ...
... Finally, the available data from research on tactile perception suggest that alexithymia could go along with more intense experiences of negative emotions during active touch (Iosifyan and Korolkova, 2019) but there is no evidence that alexithymia has an impact on passive perception of affective touch (Borhani et al., 2017). The discrepant results between the two studies on tactile emotion perception could be explained by differences in the perceptual processes investigated (active touching vs. being touched). ...
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Alexithymia is a clinically relevant personality trait characterized by deficits in recognizing and verbalizing one's emotions. It has been shown that alexithymia is related to an impaired perception of external emotional stimuli, but previous research focused on emotion perception from faces and voices. Since sensory modalities represent rather distinct input channels it is important to know whether alexithymia also affects emotion perception in other modalities and expressive domains. The objective of our review was to summarize and systematically assess the literature on the impact of alexithymia on the perception of emotional (or hedonic) stimuli in music, odor, taste, and touch. Eleven relevant studies were identified. On the basis of the reviewed research, it can be preliminary concluded that alexithymia might be associated with deficits in the perception of primarily negative but also positive emotions in music and a reduced perception of aversive taste. The data available on olfaction and touch are inconsistent or ambiguous and do not allow to draw conclusions. Future investigations would benefit from a multimethod assessment of alexithymia and control of negative affect. Multimodal research seems necessary to advance our understanding of emotion perception deficits in alexithymia and clarify the contribution of modality-specific and supramodal processing impairments.
... Hence, it is possible that an affective account drives correspondences between visual textures and tastes. Considering that curvature can convey affective information (Etzi et al., 2014;Faucheu et al., 2019;Iosifyan & Korolkova, 2019), and that several correspondences between taste and visual elements seem to derive from common affective connotations (Velasco, Woods, Petit, et al., 2016), it is likely that the correspondences studied here emerge from corresponding/congruent affect evoked by specific features of the visual textures and tastes. For instance, Velasco, Woods, Marks, et al. (2016) found that round shapes are associated with the word sweet, whereas angular shapes are associated with the words sour, salty, and bitter. ...
... The correspondence between the fluffy visual texture and sweetness may originate from the positive affect evoked by both features. The positive affect associated with the fluffy visual texture may come from indirect mappings to fluffy or soft tactile textures (Iosifyan & Korolkova, 2019), as well as from the positive valence associated to round shapes and sweetness . That said, it is important to consider that the context in which the visual textures are presented may influence their affective connotations. ...
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Numerous crossmodal correspondences between visual elements and basic tastes have been documented in recent years. Research has shown that many of these correspondences can influence taste expectations when applied in food packaging. However, research on correspondences between visual textures and tastes is scarce, despite the ability of the former to convey specific information about materials and objects. In the present study, we conducted two online experiments designed to study crossmodal correspondences between basic taste words and visual textures with common material properties. In Experiment 1 (N = 194), we evaluated explicit associations between six visual texture categories (with four levels of each category) and basic taste words. The results revealed moderate associations between one of the fluffy visual textures and sweetness and between a rough and a crunchy visual texture and saltiness. In Experiment 2 (N = 407), we superimposed the visual textures associated with the basic tastes found in Experiment 1 on food extrinsic factors (i.e., packaging, napkin) served in combination with products of three taste qualities (i.e., neutral/ambiguous, sweet, salty). We did not find evidence supporting the idea that visual textures that are crossmodally corresponding to specific tastes, as revealed in Experiment 1, influenced taste expectations. The results of the study suggest that the strength of the crossmodal correspondence between visual textures and basic taste words studied here is moderate.
... The Haptic Remembrance book aided care home residents recall past experiences using a book with touch and audio displays which evoked past life events [11]. Iosifyan et al. found that emotional associations with certain materials and real-world phenomena, such as granite and gravestones, impacted participant emotional response [21]. Social robot animals, like Paro the seal, aim to evoke interaction with pets to promote similar social and enjoyable behaviours in their users [17,43,55]. ...
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This paper investigates how presenting emotionally resonant vibrotactile stimuli at cool, neutral and warm temperature levels impacts mean ratings for emotional resonance and affective response. Affective vibrotactile stimuli can elicit pleasant or calming responses, making them applicable for emotion regulation. Evoking real-world sensations via emotional resonance can widen their affective range and improve their effectiveness, and allow them to enhance immersive multimodal experiences. Thermotactile cues have been shown to affect emotional responses, but have not been combined with emotionally resonant vibrations to see how they change responses to such cues. This study (n=20) assessed the impact of 3 temperature levels (24°C, 30°C, and 34°C) on 15 emotionally resonant vibrotactile cues and observed if emotionally resonant stimuli exceeded the affective range non-resonant vibrotactile stimuli. The findings suggest that presenting specific resonant vibrations at temperatures that are appropriate for the sensation they evoke can improve emotional resonance and vice versa. In addition, temperature had a positive effect on affective response and emotionally resonant vibrations were found to have a wider affective range than traditional vibrotactile cues. These findings support using emotionally resonant vibrations and thermal cues to elicit desirable emotional responses in emotion regulation and immersive media applications.
... These associations coming from underlying emotional matchings may come from perceptual dimensions (Cavanaugh et al., 2016) and semantic ones (Wilkes & Miodownik, 2018;Wilkes et al., 2014). For example, furry textures are associated with happiness (Iosifyan & Korolkova, 2019), so it is possible that furry textures, such as the ones in winter garments, were associated with warm temperatures because people may indirectly map these textures to the warm and cosy feelings these garments produce-besides the physical protection against low temperatures. As Barbosa Escobar et al. (2021) found, warm temperatures are associated with positive valenced emotions. ...
Visual textures are critical in how individuals form sensory expectations about objects, which include somatosensory properties such as temperature. This study aimed to uncover crossmodal associations between visual textures and temperature concepts. In Experiment 1 (N = 193), we evaluated crossmodal associations between 43 visual texture categories and different temperature concepts (via temperature words such as cold and hot) using an explicit forced-choice test. The results revealed associations between striped, cracked, matted, and waffled visual textures and high temperatures and between crystalline and flecked visual textures and low temperatures. In Experiment 2 (N = 247), we conducted six Implicit Association Tests (IATs) pairing the two visual textures most strongly associated with low (crystalline and flecked) and high (striped and cracked) temperatures with the words cold and hot as per the results of Experiment 1. When pairing the crystalline and striped visual textures, the results revealed that crystalline was matched to the word cold, and striped was matched to the word hot. However, some associations found through the explicit test were not found in the IATs. In Experiment 3 (N = 124), we investigated how mappings between visual textures and concrete entities may influence crossmodal associations with temperature and these visual textures. Altogether, we found both a range of associations’ strengths and automaticity levels. Importantly, we found evidence of relative effects. Furthermore, some of these crossmodal associations are partly influenced by indirect mappings to concrete entities.
... The importance of haptics has been recognized for centuries [23]. As the primary source of input to the perceptual system of human beings, it assists individuals in acquiring information, manipulates the environment and plays a crucial role in emotion perception [24,25]. In marketing research, haptic sense often shapes the consumer perception and behavior [23]. ...
... Texture is another important variable of haptic experience [30,31] but research as an aspect of affective haptics is limited. Prior research has shown that people can associate different emotions with different textures [27]. Etzi et al. found that smoother textures tended to be perceived as pleasant and speculated that certain textures could remind participants of "grooming and nurturing stimuli" [17]. ...
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This paper presents a survey informing a user-first approach todesigning calming affective haptic stimuli by eliciting user prefer-ences in different social scenarios. Prior affective haptics researchpresented users with stimuli and recorded emotional responses. Bycontrast this work focuses on the sensations users wish to expe-rience and how these can be simulated using haptics. The survey(n=81) investigated which users preferences in four social situationsto reduce social anxiety. Using thematic analysis of responses wecreated a coding scheme of stimuli derived from real-world experi-ences to emulate with affective haptics. By cross-referencing thesecategories with affective haptics research, we provide recommen-dations to designers about which calming stimuli users wish toexperience socially and how they can be implemented.
... Crippa et al. [25] found that different materials can evoke emotions, even if weakly, such as satisfaction, joy, fascination, dissatisfaction and boredom. In relation to texture and emotion, Ebe and Umemuro [26] and Iosifyan and Korolkova [27] have found that people significantly associate basic emotions to different textures perceived through touch. For this study, we created 32 doors with different colours, materials and textures. ...
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Knocking sounds are highly meaningful everyday sounds. There exist many ways of knocking, expressing important information about the state of the person knocking and their relationship with the other side of the door. In media production, knocking sounds are important storytelling devices: they allow transitions to new scenes and create expectations in the audience. Despite this important role, knocking sounds have rarely been the focus of research. In this study, we create a data set of knocking actions performed with different emotional intentions. We then verify, through a listening test, whether these emotional intentions are perceived through listening to sound alone. Finally, we perform an acoustic analysis of the experimental data set to identify whether emotion-specific acoustic patterns emerge. The results show that emotional intentions are correctly perceived for some emotions. Additionally, the emerging emotion-specific acoustic patterns confirm, at least in part, findings from previous research in speech and music performance.
Mid-air technology is not well studied in the context of multisensory experience. Despite increasing advances in mid-air interaction and mid-air haptics, we still lack a good understanding of how such technologies might influence human behaviour and experience. Compare this with the understanding, we currently have about physical touch, which highlights the need for more knowledge in this area. In this chapter, I describe three areas of development that consider human multisensory perception and relate these to the study and use of mid-air haptics. I focus on three main challenges of developing multisensory mid-air interactions. First, I describe how crossmodal correspondence could improve the experience of mid-air touch. Then, I outline some opportunities to introduce mid-air touch to the study of multisensory integration. Finally, I discuss how this multisensory approach can benefit applications that encourage and support a sense of agency in interaction with autonomous systems. Considering these three contributions, when developing mid-air technologies can provide a new multisensory perspective, resulting in the design of more meaningful and emotionally-loaded mid-air interactions.
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In the last decades, there has been a growing interest in crossmodal correspondences, including those involving temperature. However, only a few studies have explicitly examined the underlying mechanisms behind temperature-related correspondences. In the present study, we investigated the relative roles of affective and semantic mechanisms in crossmodal correspondences between visual textures and temperature concepts using an associative learning paradigm. We conducted two online experiments using visual textures previously shown to be associated with low (i.e., crystalline) and high (i.e., furry) temperatures (Experiment 1; N = 300), and visual textures (i.e., stained, wrinkled) without prior associations to temperature concepts (Experiment 2; N = 300). In both experiments, participants completed a speeded categorisation task before and after an associative learning task, in which they learned mappings between the visual textures and specific affective (e.g., sad vs. happy facial expressions) or semantic (e.g., fur vs. metal) stimuli related to low and high temperatures. The results revealed that, across the two experiments, both the affective and semantic mappings influenced the explicit temperature categorisation responses, but not reaction times, in the corresponding direction. Moreover, the effect of learning semantic mappings was larger than that of affective mappings in both experiments. These results suggest that a semantic mechanism has more weight in the formation of crossmodal associations between visual textures and temperature concepts than an affective mechanism. We advance the research on temperature-related crossmodal correspondences by using, for the first time, a learning paradigm to investigate the relative mechanisms of crossmodal associations. We demonstrate that the crossmodal associations studied here can be strengthened and created through learning related to mechanisms behind these associations.
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Experience design has become a widely discussed topic. Museums use experience design for engaging their visitors and culture offers exceptional tools for it. Visual arts and music are particularly effective in eliciting visitors’ emotions. However, there are a number of visual and acoustic cues that influence museum visitor response behaviours. Understanding the ways in which the human brain processes information provides a basis for furthering experience design principles. This study focuses on the emotion of surprise, considered especially effective for engaging visitor attention, providing meaning and affecting memory. The methodology involved monitoring psychophysiological responses and self-reports to assess research participants’ reactions to visual/acoustic stimuli. The aim was to confirm/detect types of sensory stimuli that generate the emotion of surprise, to see if participants have similar reactions to stimuli and whether individuals’ self-reports are aligned with their psychophysiological reactions. The results showed that musical stimuli are more effective than visual arts in eliciting surprise. While the study showed no clear indications that visual cues have an effect on surprise, musical cues, such as rapid attack, large pitch variation, higher harmonics, slow tempo with a sudden interruption, and sudden change in loudness do seem to play a role. Other cues, such as major key, 4/4 meter, timbral difference, and diatonic harmony also have an impact on the elicitation of surprise. These are important implications for designing museum experiences.
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Alexithymia is a psychological construct characterized by deficits in processing emotional stimuli. However, little is known about the processing of odours in alexithymia, even though there is extensive proof that emotion and olfaction are closely linked. The present study is aimed at investigating how alexithymic individuals process emotions conveyed by odors. Emotional responses to unpleasant, neutral odors and clean air were collected through self-report ratings and psychophysiological measures in a sample of 62 healthy participants with high (HA), medium (MA) and low (LA) levels of alexithymia. Moreover, participants performed tests on odors identification and threshold and completed questionnaires assessing olfactory imagery and awareness. Two main results have been found: first, HA and MA groups showed altered physiological responses to odors, compared to LA, while no differences among the groups were observed in odor ratings; and second, affective and cognitive alexithymia components were differently associated with the performance on olfactory tests, skin conductance response to odors, reaction times in the rating task, and scores on olfactory questionnaires. We conclude that alexithymia is characterized by altered physiological reactions to olfactory stimuli; moreover, we stress the importance of evaluating the different alexithymia components since they affect emotional stimuli processing in different ways.
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Disturbances in the ability to recognize emotional faces have been attributed to individuals with specific personality disorders. Considering the importance of the dimensional models of psychopathology, studies involving healthy participants are becoming increasingly relevant in the domain of personality disorders. In this context, our main goal was to assess how clinical personality traits affect the ability to recognize basic emotions in a sample of subclinical participants. Photographs of faces expressing six basic emotions (happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust and surprise) were presented to 72 undergraduate students (42 women; M age = 23.3 yr., SD = 3.4), whose dominant personality traits (narcissistic, histrionic and compulsive) were assessed using the Millon Clinical Multiaxial Inventory-III. Data were analyzed using both a whole sample regression approach (relating personality traits with emotion recognition performance) and a group comparison approach (comparing groups of participants with dominant personality - narcissistic, histrionic and compulsive - as well as comparing groups with subclinical symptomatology for anxiety and hypomania). The main results suggested a poor recognition of sadness in narcissistic participants and a higher difficulty for anger recognition in participants with anxiety symptoms. These results are discussed within the theoretical framework suggesting that the difficulties in basic and social emotions recognition have implications in interpersonal interactions experienced in different social contexts.
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Touch is central to interpersonal interactions. Touch conveys specific emotions about the touch provider, but it is not clear whether this is a purely socially learned function or whether it has neurophysiological specificity. In two experiments with healthy participants (N = 76 and 58) and one neuropsychological single case study, we investigated whether a type of touch characterised by peripheral and central neurophysiological specificity, namely the C tactile (CT) system, can communicate specific emotions and mental states. We examined the specificity of emotions elicited by touch delivered at CT-optimal (3 cm/s) and CT-suboptimal (18 cm/s) velocities (Experiment 1) at different body sites which contain (forearm) vs. do not contain (palm of the hand) CT fibres (Experiment 2). Blindfolded participants were touched without any contextual cues, and were asked to identify the touch provider's emotion and intention. Overall, CT-optimal touch (slow, gentle touch on the forearm) was significantly more likely than other types of touch to convey arousal, lust or desire. Affiliative emotions such as love and related intentions such as social support were instead reliably elicited by gentle touch, irrespective of CT-optimality, suggesting that other top-down factors contribute to these aspects of tactile social communication. To explore the neural basis of this communication, we also tested this paradigm in a stroke patient with right perisylvian damage, including the posterior insular cortex, which is considered as the primary cortical target of CT afferents, but excluding temporal cortex involvement that has been linked to more affiliative aspects of CT-optimal touch. His performance suggested an impairment in ‘reading’ emotions based on CT-optimal touch. Taken together, our results suggest that the CT system can add specificity to emotional and social communication, particularly with regards to feelings of desire and arousal. On the basis of these findings, we speculate that its primary functional role may be to enhance the ‘sensual salience’ of tactile interactions.
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Significance Touch is a powerful tool for communicating positive emotions. However, it has remained unknown to what extent social touch would maintain and establish social bonds. We asked a total of 1,368 people from five countries to reveal, using an Internet-based topographical self-reporting tool, those parts of their body that they would allow relatives, friends, and strangers to touch. These body regions formed relationship-specific maps in which the total area was directly related to the strength of the emotional bond between the participant and the touching person. Cultural influences were minor. We suggest that these relation-specific bodily patterns of social touch constitute an important mechanism supporting the maintenance of human social bonds.
This study investigates systematic links between haptic perception and multimodal cinema perception. It differs from previous research conducted on cross-modal associations as it focuses on a complex intermodal stimulus, close to one people experience in reality: cinema. Participants chose materials that are most/least consistent with three-minute samples of films with elements of beauty and ugliness. We found that specific materials are associated with certain films significantly different from chance. Silk was associated with films including elements of beauty, while sandpaper was associated with films including elements of ugliness. To investigate the nature of this phenomenon, we tested the mediation effect of emotional/semantic representations on cinema–haptic associations. We found that affective representations at least partly explain the cross-modal associations between films and materials.
The aim of the present study was to examine the mechanisms of empathy for pain that contribute to consoling touch, a distress-alleviating contact behavior carried out by an observer in response to the suffering of a target. We tested romantic couples in a paradigm that involves consoling touch and examined the attenuation of the mu/alpha rhythm (8–13 Hz) in the consoling partner. During the task, the toucher either held the consoled partner's right hand (human touch) or held onto the armrest of the chair (non-human touch), while the consoled partner experienced inflicted pain (pain condition) or did not experience any pain (no-pain condition). In accordance with our hypotheses, the results revealed an interaction between touch and pain at in mu/alpha rhythms in all central sites (C3, C4, Cz). Specifically, we found that the toucher's mu suppression was higher in the consoling touch condition, i.e., while touching the partner who is in pain, compared to the three control conditions. Additionally, we found that in the consoling touch condition, mu suppression at electrode C4 of the toucher correlated with a measure of situational empathy. Our findings suggest that electrophysiological and behavioral measures that have been associated with empathy for pain are modulated during consoling touch.
In order to find out principal dimensions of touch, 50 samples of various texture, shape, size, and material, were collected.(1) Twenty haptic differential rating scales were applied to 50 samples and factor analyzed (S.D. touch).(2) Distance matrix constructed indirectly from the haptic profiles of 25 samples (selected from the 50) was analyzed by Torgerson-Indow's multi-dimensional scaling (MDS). Most important dimensions of tactual impressions are (i) heaviness and coldness (ii) wet and smoothness, and (iii) hardness. MDS yields nearly perfect one factor pattern. Metals and fibers are at the opposite poles.