Perceiving Intersensory and Emotional Qualities of Everyday Objects: A Study on Smoothness or Sharpness Features with Line Drawings by Designers

In: Art & Perception
Michele Sinico Department of Architecture and Arts, IUAV University of Venice, 30121 Venice, Italy

Search for other papers by Michele Sinico in
Current site
Google Scholar
Marco Bertamini Department of Psychology, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3BX, UK
Department of General Psychology, University of Padova, 35131 Padova, Italy

Search for other papers by Marco Bertamini in
Current site
Google Scholar
, and
Alessandro Soranzo Centre of Behavioural Science and Applied Psychology, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, S10 2BQ, UK

Search for other papers by Alessandro Soranzo in
Current site
Google Scholar
Download Citation Get Permissions

Access options

Get access to the full article by using one of the access options below.

Institutional Login

Log in with Open Athens, Shibboleth, or your institutional credentials

Login via Institution


Buy instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



A large number of studies have focused on the aesthetic value of smoothly curved objects. By contrast, angular shapes tend to be associated with tertiary qualities such as threat, hardness, loudness, nervousness, etc. The present study focuses on the effect of curvilinearity vs angularity on the aesthetic experience of design artefacts. We used the drawings of everyday objects with novel shapes created by 56 designers (IUAV image dataset). Each drawing had two versions: a smooth and an angular version. To test new tertiary associations, beyond aesthetic value, we obtained ratings for seven characteristics (‘soft/hard, sad/cheerful, male/female, bad/good, aggressive/peaceful, agitated/serene, useless/useful’) from 174 naïve observers. Importantly, each naïve rater saw only one of the two versions of an object. The results confirmed a significant relation between smoothness and hardness as well as other (tertiary) associations. The link between smoothness and usefulness confirms that perceptual utility is significantly influenced by the shape of the object. This finding suggests that tertiary qualities convey both static and functional information about design objects. The role of perceptual constraints in drawing design artefacts is also discussed.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 554 192 15
Full Text Views 34 5 0
PDF Views & Downloads 54 11 0