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Auditory and Visual Crossmodal Correspondences With Haptically Perceived Liquid Viscosity

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Past research on crossmodal correspondences as they relate to tactile perception has largely been restricted to solid substances. We investigated the role of haptically explored liquid viscosity in crossmodal correspondences with visually presented luminance, saturation, roundedness, size, number and visual elevation, as well as pure-tone pitch and kiki–bouba-type letter strings. In Experiment 1, we presented two tactile and two visual or auditory stimuli simultaneously, and found significant inter-participant agreement (n=32) when pairing viscosity with luminance, saturation, roundedness, size, pitch and letter string type. To assess whether these crossmodal correspondences were relative or absolute, another 32 participants were presented, in Experiment 2, with two tactile stimuli but only one visual/auditory stimulus per trial. In this second experiment, we found that high viscosity was paired with low luminance, roundness, low saturation, and the bouba-type letter string, while low viscosity was paired with high pitch. However, the inverse associations (e.g. low viscosity with high luminance, high viscosity with low pitch) were not significant. These findings indicate that viscosity can be added to the list of dimensions that invoke crossmodal correspondences, and that the majority of crossmodal correspondences involving viscosity are absolute rather than relative, since they appear without explicit comparisons along the visual/auditory dimensions we measured.

Affiliations: 1: School of Psychology, University of East London, Water Lane, London E15 4LZ, UK

*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:

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