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Keynote Lecture, Professor Charles Spence, University of Oxford

16/10/2012 (14:00-15:00)

Psychology Department Keynote Lecture, Professor Charles Spence, University of Oxford

Crossmodal correspondences: Looking for links between sound, symbolism and synaesthesia and their application to multisensory marketing

Windsor Auditorium 2-3pm

“Are lemons fast or slow?”; “Is carbonated water round or angular?”; Most people agree that the answers to these questions are fast and angular, respectively. These are examples of correspondences, that is, the tendency for a sensory feature, in one modality, either physically present, or merely imagined, to be matched (or associated) with a feature, either physically present, or merely imagined, in another modality. Crossmodal correspondences appear to exist between all combinations of senses, and have been shown to affect everything from speeded responses to people’s performance in unspeeded psychophysical tasks. While some correspondences are culture-specific, others are likely to be universal (e.g., the correspondence between auditory pitch and visual or haptic size). Intriguingly, the latest research has demonstrated that some animals (e.g., chimpanzees), as well as very young infants, appear sensitive to certain crossmodal correspondences. In this talk, I will discuss the various explanations that have been put forward to account for the existence of various crossmodal correspondences. I will also examine the relationship between crossmodal correspondences and sound symbolism, and tackle the thorny question of whether crossmodal correspondences should be thought of as a kind of synaesthesia that is common to us all. Finally, I will highlight some of the intriguing marketing applications that are now emerging from basic research on crossmodal correspondences in the design of everything from the labels of water and beer bottles through to the music you listen to while drinking your Starbucks coffee.

For reviews, see:

Spence, C. (2011). Crossmodal correspondences: A tutorial review. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 73, 971-995.

Spence, C. (2012). Managing sensory expectations concerning products and brands: Capitalizing on the potential of sound and shape symbolism. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 22, 37-54.

Spence, C. (in press). Synaesthetic marketing. Wired.


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