The role of auditory cues in modulating the perception of electric toothbrushes.
Zampini M., Guest S., Spence C.
Recent research shows that what people hear can influence what they feel. We investigated whether the perception of an electric toothbrush might also be affected by the sound that it makes. Participants were required to make stereotypical brushing movements with a standard electric toothbrush while they rated either the pleasantness or the roughness of the vibrotactile stimulation they felt on their teeth. The results demonstrate that the perception of the sensations experienced during toothbrush use were systematically altered by variations in the auditory feedback elicited by the brushing action. Participants reported that the toothbrush felt more pleasant and less rough when either the overall sound level was reduced, or when just the high-frequency sounds were attenuated. These results highlight the significant role that auditory cues can play in modulating the perception and evaluation of everyday products in use, and provide a paradigm for future study in this area.