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A Scaling Study of Synesthetic Thinking

Wicker, Frank W.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Bulletin
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Naval Research, Association (Psychology), Auditory Stimuli, Cognitive Processes, Color, Multidimensional Scaling, Perception


Two types of multivariate procedure--based, respectively, on similarity and semantic judgments--were used in the attempt to map intersensory associations between colors and tones. With both procedures it was possible to investigate individual differences as well as group trends. For both procedures stable associations were found for the group as a whole. The two methods agreed considerably in the types of intersensory analogy indicated. Individual differences were great, but the attempt to relate these differences to other attributes of individuals met with little success. In particular, people who reported synesthetic imagery did not differ systematically in their judgments from those who did not. Two types of alignment were concluded to underlie the intersensory relationships obtained. Bright colors were aligned with high pitched tones, and loud tones were aligned with colors which contrasted sharply with a gray background.

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