Sounds Speed Visual Search

Call for Papers – Talk

Product-Related Sounds Speed Visual Search

Speaker: Dr. Klemens Knöferle (Crossmodal Research Laboratory, Oxford University)


Consumers often search for specific products in cluttered visual environments, such as the supermarket aisle. The question we address here is whether cues from other sensory modalities might be used to facilitate, guide, and/or bias visual search toward a particular brand or product (type). Prior research suggests that characteristic sounds can facilitate visual object localization (Iordanescu et al., 2008, 2010). Extending these findings to an applied setting, we investigated whether product-related sounds would facilitate visual search for products from different categories when arranged in a virtual supermarket shelf.

The participants identified a target product significantly faster when the visual target was accompanied by a congruent rather than incongruent sound. These results extend the facilitatory crossmodal effect of characteristic sounds on visual search performance described earlier to the more realistic context of a virtual shelf display, thus showing that characteristic sounds can speed the rate at which actual products are localized.

  • Iordanescu, L., Grabowecky, M., Franconeri, S., Theeuwes, J., & Suzuki, S. (2010). Characteristic sounds make you look at target objects more quickly. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 72(7), 1736-1741.
  • Iordanescu, L., Guzman-Martinez, E., Grabowecky, M., & Suzuki, S. (2008). Characteristic sounds facilitate visual search. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 15(3), 548-554.