An Affective Engineering Study of Vibrational Cues and Affect When Touching Car Interiors

Louise Manfredi
Affective Engineering Laboratory, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds, UK

Brian Henson
Affective Engineering Laboratory, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds, UK

Cathy Barnes
Affective Engineering Laboratory, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds, UK

Tom Childs
Affective Engineering Laboratory, School of Mechanical Engineering, University of Leeds, UK

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Publicerad: 2008-02-15


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Within the field of psychology; and psychophysics in particular; the understanding of texture and the perception of it has been an exciting research field since Katz’s The World of Touch in 1925 (Kreuger; 1989). The World of Touch underpins the view that movement and the resulting vibrations are almost certainly needed in texture discrimination. Bensmaia and Hollins (2003) concluded in a recent study concerning roughness and the speed of lateral finger movement that there was a relationship between frequency and spatial periods on the surfaces tested within the context of roughness. In contrast; Lederman (1982) found that vibration has no service in the perception of roughness which leaves no real conclusive evidence as to the importance of vibration as a whole. Although much work has been undertaken in the perception of texture; little has been undertaken in the application of textures in product design such as this study presents.

An affective engineering study is reported in this paper in which relationships between tactile vibrational cues and affect were examined in the context of car interiors. The motivation behind the research was to generate hypotheses to test in future experiments concerning how touching surface textures evokes particular emotional responses. A variety of textures for mould decoration on otherwise identical black plastic tiles were chosen as stimuli. Any variation in the affective response of participants is therefore due to the surface textures of the tiles. The context was car interiors and the demographic was males aged 18 to 26. Focus groups were used to generate and reduce adjectives using the triad method and stimuli were chosen using semantic mapping. The semantic differential method was used to generate a semantic space for the tiles; which was compared with the frequency components of the vibrations when touched. The profiles of the frequency spectra might be responsible for the emotional responses of participants when touching surface textures.


Affective engineering; kansei engineering; touch


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Bensmaia; S. J. and Hollins; M. (2003). The vibrations of texture. Somatosensory & Motor Research; 20(1); pp.33-43.

Kreuger; L. E. (1989). The world of touch by David Katz. Edited and translated by L. E. Kreuger. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates; Publishers. Standex Engraving Group. http://www.standexengraving.com/ Accessed 4 April 2007.

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