Identifying objects through touch.

Date of Award


Document Type



College of Liberal Arts

Degree Name

Bachelor in Arts


People are able to quickly and efficiently identify familiar objects using our sense of touch. Past research has indicated that people are able to do so because they have created mental representations of objects using our senses of sight and touch (Craddock & Lawson, 2009; Klatzky et al., 1985). The objective of this thesis is to provide further insight into the structure (i.e., kinds of perceptual information) included in these object representations. I tested whether the size and prior experience of the objects play a role in our ability to haptically (i.e., through touch) identify objects in a short amount of time. This study had two parts. The first part consisted of 50 participants completing a survey indicating how they typically encounter 40 objects - either by looking or touching. The second part consisted of 130 participants completing a blind identification task in which they haptically identified normative size objects and smaller objects. The objects examined belonged to two categories: those that are typically seen and those that are typically looked at. Participants had either 1 or 5 seconds to haptically explore the objects. Results indicated that participants were more accurate in their responses when they had 5 seconds to haptically explore the objects than when they had 1 second. In addition, participants were more accurate in their responses when they haptically explored objects than those typically viewed. The order in which they first haptically identified the objects, whether first haptically identified objects typically looked at or typically touched, affected their responses as well. Results also indicated that smaller objects are typically haptically identified better when they are typically looked at than those that are typically touched. Implications of these findings are discussed.