Synesthetic Tendencies as the Basis of Sensory Symbolism: A Review of a Series of Experiments by Means of Semantic Differential
T. Oyama, H. Yamada & H. Iwasawa
Synesthetic tendencies, or cross-modality affective meanings mediating these tendencies, produced by colors, forms, music, sounds, abstract words, facial expressions, and movies were studied by means of the semantic differential technique. Factor analysis indicated that evaluation, activity and potency are main stable factors, but the potency factor is sometimes divided into two factors, lightness, whose polarity was inversely related to potency, and sharpness. Multi-dimensional classification using composite scores for these factors was found useful for placing these stimuli into affectively similar categories, regardless of their sensory domains. Affective meanings of combinations between movies and music, and between forms and colors were compared with those of stimulus components. Non-evaluational meanings were predictable from linear combinations of meanings of component stimuli, but evaluational properties showed more complex interaction. These results suggested that such studies should provide a psychological basis for various sensory symbolism, and artistic expression.

Key words: synesthesia, sensory symbolism, affective meaning, artistic expression