April 14, 2021

Materials in action: The look and feel of soft

The softness of objects can be perceived through several senses. For instance, to judge the softness of our cat’s fur, we do not only look at it, we also run our fingers in idiosyncratic ways through its coat. Recently, we have shown that haptically perceived softness covaries with the compliance, viscosity, granularity, and furriness of materials (Dovencioglu et al.,2020). However, it is unknown whether vision can provide similar information about the various aspects of perceived softness. Here, we investigated this question in an experiment with three conditions: in the haptic condition, blindfolded participants explored materials with their hands, in the visual-static condition participants were presented with close-up photographs of the same materials, and in the visual-dynamic condition participants watched videos of the hand-material interactions that were recorded in the haptic condition. After haptically or visually exploring the materials participants rated them on various attributes. Our results show a high overall perceptual correspondence between the three experimental conditions. With a few exceptions, this correspondence tended to be strongest between haptic and visual-dynamic conditions. These results are discussed with respect to information potentially available through the senses, or through prior experience, when judging the softness of materials.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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