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Müge Cavdan, Knut Drewing, Katja Doerschner; The look and feel of soft are similar across different softness dimensions. Journal of Vision 2021;21(10):20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.21.10.20.
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The softness of objects can be perceived through several senses. For instance, to judge the softness of a cat's fur, we do not only look at it, we often also run our fingers through its coat. Recently, we have shown that haptically perceived softness covaries with the compliance, viscosity, granularity, and furriness of materials (Dovencioglu, Üstün, Doerschner, & Drewing, 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 static visual condition participants were presented with close-up photographs of the same materials, and in the dynamic visual 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 among the three experimental conditions. With a few exceptions, this correspondence tended to be strongest between haptic and dynamic visual conditions. These results are discussed with respect to information potentially available through the senses, or through prior experience, when judging the softness of materials.
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