Effects of mediated social touch on affective experiences and trust.

Stefanie M. Erk, Alexander Toet, Johannes Bernardus Fransiscus van Erp

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    15 Citations (Scopus)
    144 Downloads (Pure)


    This study investigated whether communication via mediated hand pressure during a remotely shared experience (watching an amusing video) can (1) enhance recovery from sadness, (2) enhance the affective quality of the experience, and (3) increase trust towards the communication partner. Thereto participants first watched a sad movie clip to elicit sadness, followed by a funny one to stimulate recovery from sadness. While watching the funny clip they signaled a hypothetical fellow participant every time they felt amused. In the experimental condition the participants responded by pressing a hand-held two-way mediated touch device (a Frebble), which also provided haptic feedback via simulated hand squeezes. In the control condition they responded by pressing a button and they received abstract visual feedback. Objective (heart rate, galvanic skin conductance, number and duration of joystick or Frebble presses) and subjective (questionnaires) data were collected to assess the emotional reactions of the participants. The subjective measurements confirmed that the sad movie successfully induced sadness while the funny movie indeed evoked more positive feelings. Although their ranking agreed with the subjective measurements, the physiological measurements confirmed this conclusion only for the funny movie. The results show that recovery from movie induced sadness, the affective experience of the amusing movie, and trust towards the communication partner did not differ between both experimental conditions. Hence, feedback via mediated hand touching did not enhance either of these factors compared to visual feedback. Further analysis of the data showed that participants scoring low on Extraversion (i.e., persons that are more introvert) or low on Touch Receptivity (i.e., persons who do not like to be touched by others) felt better understood by their communication partner when receiving mediated touch feedback instead of visual feedback, while the opposite was found for participants scoring high on these factors. The implications of these results for further research are discussed, and some suggestions for follow-up experiments are presented.
    Original languageUndefined
    Pages (from-to)1-35
    Number of pages35
    Issue numbere1297
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


    • EWI-26744
    • METIS-315559
    • IR-99257

    Cite this