Visual communication of how fabrics feel

Maarten W.A. Wijntjes, Bei Xiao, Robert Volcic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although product photos and movies are abundantly present in online shopping environments, little is known about how much of the real product experience they capture. While previous studies have shown that movies or interactive imagery give users the impression that these communication forms are more effective, there are no studies addressing this issue quantitatively.We used nine different samples of jeans, because in general fabrics represent a large and interesting product category and specifically because jeans can visually be rather similar while haptically be rather different. In the first experiment we let observers match a haptic stimulus to a visual representation and found that movies were more informative about how objects would feel than photos. In a second experiment we wanted to confirm this finding by using a different experimental paradigm that we deemed a better general paradigm for future studies on this topic: correlations of pairwise similarity ratings. However, the beneficial effect of the movies was absent when using this new paradigm. In the third experiment we investigated this issue by letting people visually observe other people in making haptic similarity judgments. Here, we did find a significant correlation between haptic and visual data. Together, the three experiments suggest that there is a small but significant effect of movies over photos (Experiment 1) but at the same time a significant difference between visual representations and visually perceiving products in reality (Experiments 2 and 3). This finding suggests a substantial theoretical potential for decreasing the gap between virtual and real product presentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2019


  • Cross-modal transfer
  • Fabrics
  • Haptics
  • Material perception
  • Online shopping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ophthalmology
  • Sensory Systems


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