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Touch has received increasing interest in marketing, given research indicating that contact with products influences evaluation and the tendency to purchase. However, little is known from the marketing or psychophysical literature about visible attributes of objects that elicit touch for hedonic purposes. In these studies, participants rated the tendency of pictured objects to invite touch, or “touch-ability.” Rated touch-ability varied reliably with structural attributes of objects, and the structural influences were distinct from those on other ratings such as attractiveness and apparent expense. Although the trends varied across object sets, touch-ability generally declined as surface textures became markedly rough and shape complexity became extreme. Holding stimulus factors constant, touch-ability also varied with the specific hand movements that were anticipated. Finally, mean touch-ability ratings were correlated across participants with the “Need for Touch” scale, which measures an individual's tendency to touch products. The studies point to touch-ability as a potential factor that might be incorporated into product design.
Date of Publication: April-June 2012