Feeling Colours: Investigating Crossmodal Correspondences Between 3D Shapes, Colours and Emotions

Anan Lin, Meike Scheller, Feng Feng, Michael Proulx, Oussama Metatla*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paperpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


With increasing interest in multisensory experiences in HCI there is a need to consider the potential impact of crossmodal corre- spondences (CCs) between sensory modalities on perception and interpretation. We investigated CCs between active haptic expe- riences of tangible 3D objects, visual colour and emotion using the “Bouba/Kiki” paradigm. We asked 30 participants to assign colours and emotional categories to 3D-printed objects with vary- ing degrees of angularity and complexity. We found tendencies to associate high degrees of complexity and angularity with red colours, low brightness and high arousal levels. Less complex round shapes were associated with blue colours, high brightness and pos- itive valence levels. These findings contrast previously reported crossmodal effects triggered by 2D shapes of similar angularity and complexity, suggesting that designers cannot simply extrapolate potential perceptual and interpretive experiences elicited by 2D shapes to seemingly similar 3D tangible objects. Instead, we pro- pose a design space for creating tangible multisensory artefacts that can trigger specific emotional percepts and discuss implications for exploiting CCs in the design of interactive technology.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2021
EventCHI 2021: Human Factors in Computing Systems - Virtual, Yokohama, Japan
Duration: 8 May 202113 May 2021


ConferenceCHI 2021
Internet address

Bibliographical note

We would to thank the participants who took part in the reported study. Oussama Metatla’s research is partly supported by EPSRC Fellowship Grant EP/N00616X/2. Michael J. Proulx’s research is partly funded by CAMERA 2.0, the UKRI Centre for the Analysis of Motion, Entertainment Research and Applications (EP/T014865/1).


  • Multisensory Interaction
  • Crossmodal Correspondences
  • Colour
  • Touch
  • emotions
  • 3D printing
  • Kiki
  • Bouba


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