There's More to Touch Than Meets the Eye: The Salience of Object Attributes for Haptics With and Without Vision

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Psychology (CMC)

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The availability and salience of object attributes under haptic exploration, with and without vision, were assessed by 2 tasks in which Ss sorted objects that varied factorially in size, shape, texture, and hardness. In the directed-discrimination task, Ss were instructed to sort along a particular dimension. Although levels on all dimensions were easily discriminated, shape was relatively less so for haptic explorers without vision, as was hardness for those using vision and haptics. Size was least discriminable for both groups. In the free-sorting task, Ss were to sort objects by similarity. Three groups used haptic exploration only; these were differentiated by the experimenters' definition of object similarity: unbiased haptics, haptically biased haptics, haptics plus visual imagery. A 4th group used vision as well as haptics, with instructions like those of the unbiased haptics group. Results support the contention that the haptic and visual systems have distinct encoding pathways, with haptics oriented toward the encoding of substance rather the shape. This may reflect a direct influence of haptic exploratory procedures.

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© 1987 American Psychological Association