A mass web-based experiment has been carried out to explore people’s
perception of horrible sounds. The advantage of a web-based methodology
is that it enables hundreds of thousands of judgements to be obtained
over a diverse population. As part of the project, the effect of
what people saw on the screen on how they rated the sounds was examined.
The sounds were auditioned with images that were either associated
or unassociated with the sounds. It was found that images often affected
how horrible the sound was perceived to be. For example, the image
of finger nails on a blackboard made the associated sound more awful.
However, in the case of disgusting sounds, such as the sound of someone
eating, the images used had no significant effect on voting behaviour.
The colour of the website was also varied. The hue of the website
was found to be a significant factor, with a red website making the
sounds less horrible than a blue/green website. The brightness and
saturation of the website also altered people’s perceptions, with
the brighter, more saturated website making the most awful sounds,
such as the sound of someone vomiting, less horrible.