The shape of novel objects contributes to shared impressions

Aaron Kurosu, Alexander Todorov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


How do people share impressions of novel objects, and is this even possible? We tested whether the shape of novel 3-D objects can lead to similar impressions across people. To do this, we introduced a technique for manipulating highly complex shapes and measured four types of evaluative impressions (approachable, dangerous, beautiful, likable). Because relatively little is understood regarding how people form impressions of novel objects, we first sought to confirm the reliability of this behavior by examining how similar impressions are for an individual asked to re-evaluate the stimuli (i.e., impression consistency). To situate the magnitude of reliability, we compared novel objects to faces-familiar and extensively studied stimuli. Impression consistency was always present for both types of stimuli and comparable across all evaluations. Second, and more importantly, we tested how similar impressions are across people (i.e., impression consensus). Impression consensus was always present for faces, but not always for novel objects. In Study 2 we examined a greater diversity of shapes and replicated the findings of Study 1 for novel objects. The findings suggest that impression consensus for novel objects only emerges when certain types of shapes and evaluations map together. When such mapping is possible, impressions are isomorphic with the parametrized shapes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number14
JournalJournal of vision
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sensory Systems
  • Ophthalmology


  • 3-D surface and shape perception
  • Evaluation
  • Form perception
  • Impression
  • Object recognition
  • Procedural generation
  • Psychophysics
  • Shape and contour
  • Shape perception
  • Visual cognition

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