Emotional Responses to Multisensory Environmental Stimuli: A Conceptual Framework and Literature Review.

Eliane Schreuder, Johannes Bernardus Fransiscus van Erp, Alexander Toet, Victor L. Kallen

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    63 Citations (Scopus)
    166 Downloads (Pure)


    How we perceive our environment affects the way we feel and behave. The impressions of our ambient environment are influenced by its entire spectrum of physical characteristics (e.g., luminosity, sound, scents, temperature) in a dynamic and interactive way. The ability to manipulate the sensory aspects of an environment such that people feel comfortable or exhibit a desired behavior is gaining interest and social relevance. Although much is known about the sensory effects of individual environmental characteristics, their combined effects are not a priori evident due to a wide range of non-linear interactions in the processing of sensory cues. As a result, it is currently not known how different environmental characteristics should be combined to effectively induce desired emotional and behavioral effects. To gain more insight into this matter, we performed a literature review on the emotional effects of multisensory stimulation. Although we found some interesting mechanisms, the outcome also reveals that empirical evidence is still scarce and haphazard. To stimulate further discussion and research, we propose a conceptual framework that describes how environmental interventions are likely to affect human emotional responses. This framework leads to some critical research questions that suggest opportunities for further investigation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)-
    Number of pages19
    JournalSAGE Open
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016


    • affective appraisal
    • cross-modal interactions
    • multisensory stimuli
    • Emotion
    • environment


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