I can't believe this isn't wood! An investigation in the perception of naturalness

TitleI can't believe this isn't wood! An investigation in the perception of naturalness
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsOvervliet KE, Soto-Faraco S
JournalActa Psychologica
Pagination95 - 111
Date Published01/2011
KeywordsNaturalness; Multisensory perception; Vision; Touch; Psychophysics

For most people "naturalness" is a highly appreciated material characteristic. For instance, a natural wooden floor is seen as more valuable than a fake replica, though they may be comparable in quality and durability. In the present study we investigated how sensory input (vision and touch) contributes to the perception of naturalness in wood. Participants rated samples of wood or imitations thereof, such as vinyl and veneers. We first attempted to provide a validation of the measurement of perceived naturalness by comparing four psychophysical measurement methods (labelled scaling, magnitude estimation, binary decision, and ranked ordering). Second, we investigated the contribution of vision and touch by measuring the perception of naturalness in three exploration modalities (vision only, touch only, and visuo-tactile). The results show a high degree of consistency across measurement methods, suggesting that we measured a common underlying construct that relates to naturalness. It also suggests that this construct is represented on a metathetic (categorical) continuum. Moreover, we found that both vision and touch are highly correlated predictors of visuo-tactile perception of naturalness.