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Christiane B. Wiebel, Elisabeth Baumgartner, Karl R. Gegenfurtner; Visual and Haptic Representations of Material Qualities. Journal of Vision 2013;13(9):198. doi: 10.1167/13.9.198.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Material perception research has received considerable attention in the last years. Even though both the visual and the haptic sense play an important role in the everyday perception of materials, the question of how both senses compare in such tasks is unresolved. In a previous study, Bergmann Tiest and Kappers (Acta Psychologica 2007) found a good correspondence between the visual and haptic sense in roughness perception. Here, we set out to investigate the degree of correspondence between the visual and the haptic representations of different materials for a large variety of material properties. We asked subjects to rate 84 different materials for several qualities: Roughness, elasticity, colorfulness, texture, hardness, three-dimensionality, glossiness, friction, orderliness, and temperature. Stimuli consisted of real material samples (14x14 cm in size) that were mounted onto pieces of 12 mm thick medium density fiberboard. Seven different material categories were used for the experiment: plastic, paper, fabric, animal materials (fur and leather), stone, metal and wood. In the haptic condition, subjects were blindfolded and asked to rate the materials based on their tactile exploration. In the visual condition, subjects rated the stimuli based on their visual impressions only. All subjects participated in both tasks. The order of the tasks was balanced between participants. In general, ratings were highly consistent across all 12 participants. Importantly, ratings correlated highly between the visual and the haptic modality (mean correlation: r=0.62 across materials), suggesting similar representations of material qualities in both modalities. This was also revealed by means of a principal components analysis performed on the material property ratings separately for the visual and the haptic task. In both modalities, all material samples were similarly organized within the perceptual space. A subsequent procrustes analysis confirmed that the visual and haptic material space are closely linked and might share a common representational level.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2013
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