Nav: Home

Emotions from touch

June 03, 2019

Touching different types of surfaces may incur certain emotions. This was the conclusion made by the psychologists from the Higher School of Economics in a recent empirical study. Previously, emotional perception was generally studied in relation to visual and audial modalities. The study's results were published in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.

The researchers looked at how humans react to what they see or hear. This fresh research has helped to create the first ever database of textures, the tangible perception of which is associated with happiness, fear, surprise, disgust, anger, or sadness. Marina Iosifyan and Olga Korolkova invited 108 people aged from 18 to 47 to carry out their analysis. Each of the participants were blindfolded and asked to touch different unknown surfaces one after another with one hand. After touching each of the textures, respondents were asked to rate their association to each texture with six basic emotions on a scale from 0 to 5.

A total of 21 textures were used in the experiment, namely: brick, granite, glass, glass seashells (texturized), plasticine, leather, rabbit fur, metallic kitchen sponge, rubber, velvet, natural silk, polished wood, a spiky acupressure mat, unpolished wooden block, tile, glass pebbles (smooth), sandpaper, polished marble, concrete, toy slime and clay.

After the respondents answered the questions, they took a test to check their alexithymia levels. Alexithymia is a trait related to difficulties in identifying, describing and communicating emotions to others. The higher alexithymia level, the more difficult it is for a person to identify and explain tactile sensations.

The results of the research demonstrated that soft surfaces are generally associated with pleasant emotions, while rough surfaces - with unpleasant feelings. However, this is not always true. For instance, plasticine is soft, but is associated with disgust. And while glass pebbles might be hard, they are actually associated with happiness.

Each of the textures offered to the respondents was usually associated with several emotions. For example, the kitchen sponge was associated fear, disgust, and anger. Furthermore, almost all of surfaces were perceived with a feeling surprise, which the psychologists attributed to the effect of the blindfolds. Moreover, the sound that appears when a person touches the surface may also impact the emotional associations.

The researchers noticed variations in the intensity of the participants' emotions. For example, sadness, if associated with tactile sensations, only rated at 2 out of 5.

People with high levels of alexithymia tended to have more intensive negative emotions. As compared with other respondents, they were highly sensitive to disgust, anger and sadness.

In terms of application, the findings on emotional associations with certain textures can be used in product design and marketing.
-end-


National Research University Higher School of Economics

Related Emotions Articles:

How people want to feel determines whether others can influence their emotions
New Stanford research on emotions shows that people's motivations are a driving factor behind how much they allow others to influence their feelings, such as anger.
Moral emotions, a diagnotic tool for frontotemporal dementia?
A study conducted by Marc Teichmann and Carole Azuar at the Brain and Spine Institute in Paris (France) and at the Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital shows a particularly marked impairment of moral emotions in patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD).
Emotions from touch
Touching different types of surfaces may incur certain emotions. This was the conclusion made by the psychologists from the Higher School of Economics in a recent empirical study.
Negative emotions can reduce our capacity to trust
It is no secret that a bad mood can negatively affect how we treat others.
Study examines how sensitivity to emotions changes across the lifespan
Why do we become more positive as we grow older?
Face it. Our faces don't always reveal our true emotions
When it comes to reading a person's state of mind, visual context -- as in background and action -- is just as important as facial expressions and body language, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.
Surrounded by low achievers -- High on positive emotions?
Study involving the University of Konstanz proves negative impacts of high-achieving environment on school students' individual emotional well-being.
Adults with autism can read complex emotions in others
New research shows for the first time that adults with autism can recognise complex emotions such as regret and relief in others as easily as those without the condition.
Interpreting emotions: A matter of confidence
We are exposed to the facial expressions of the people.
Football coaches between victories, defeats and emotions
Football coaches who have their emotions under control are more successful.
More Emotions News and Emotions Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.