The effect of visual stimuli on the horribleness of awful sounds
Applied Acoustics (2008)

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.
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