Multisensory Relationships Between Pleasantness and Softness

Diagram of the experimental setup


Presently, there is extensive evidence of multisensory integration in tactile and visual processing. While it has been shown that the multisensory interaction between touch and vision can influence object recognition, the role of this multisensory interaction in the affective domain is still poorly understood. The aim of this study was to examine the influence of tactile softness perception on affective processing of stimuli presented through vision.

Adapting the affective priming paradigm, an experiment was conducted with urethane gels of differing compliance and visually presented words. Participants were instructed to rate the valence of the visually presented words concurrently with the presentation of urethane gels. Reaction times and response ratings were recorded for the experiment. The results indicated that participants were slower to rate the valence of soft stimuli; we posit that the soft material disrupted the participants’ attention.

We propose a second experiment to clarify whether this effect is unique only to affective ratings or whether it extends to the semantic ratings of visually presented words as well. Both experiments differ only in the instructions given – the second experiment will ask participants to rate the level of abstractness of the visually presented words instead.

Leong Utek
Third-Year Psychology Undergraduate