The influence of sound properties on the semantic associations of product sounds

Verviers, Claire Juliette
To be able to design product sounds that elicit a predetermined expression a study was performed to find how sound properties influence the experience of their expression. Two explorative studies using figurative against abstract visual stimuli were performed to create insight in how people experience sounds and to create a list of usable semantic associations. This list was ordered in 25 expression categories each under one descriptive semantic association. A third study using mind mapping was conducted to examine what sound properties were considered as influences on a few of these categories and to optimize the categorization. The sound properties that were considered as most influential were sharpness and noisiness. The final descriptive semantic associations were placed on a scale with the axes unpleasant-pleasant and calm-active. From these the following were considered to be most usable: activated, angry, boring, calm, chaotic, cheerful, eerie, energetic, pleasant, relaxed, trustworthy and unpleasant. In a fourth study the sounds of six domestic appliances were chosen and adjusted for sharpness, noisiness and their combination. They were evaluated for their valued expression on the 12 semantic associations by 30 participants. The results showed that increased sharpness elicited a more unpleasant and activated expression and decreased sharpness elicited a more pleasant and calm expression. This indicates that a general influence of sound properties can be established to design sounds for expression.


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Citation Formats
C. J. Verviers, “The influence of sound properties on the semantic associations of product sounds,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2010.