Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 59, Issue 1, pp 111–118 | Cite as

Effects of surface texture and grip force on the discrimination of hand-held loads

  • J. Randall FlanaganEmail author
  • Alan M. Wing


In this paper, we report the results from two experiments in which subjects were required to discriminate horizontal load forces applied to a manipulandum held with a precision grip. The roughness (and hence friction) of the grip surfaces and required grip force were manipulated. In the first experiment, subjects were instructed to judge the load while maintaining hand position and not letting the manipulandum slip. It was found that performance was influenced by surface texture; a given load was judged to be greater when the surface texture was smooth than when it was rough. This result is consistent with a previous study based on lifting objects and indicates that the effect of surface texture applies to loads in general and not just to gravitational loads (i.e., weight). To test whether the load acting on a smooth object is judged to be greater because the grip force required to prevent it from slipping is larger, a second experiment was carried out. Subjects used a visual feedback display to maintain the same grip force for smooth and rough manipulandum surfaces. In this case, there was no effect of surface texture on load perception. These results provide evidence that perceived load depends on the grip force used to resist the load. The implications of these results in terms of central and peripheral factors underlying load discrimination are considered.


Surface Texture Test Load Grip Force Load Force Load Perception 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.MRC Applied Psychology UnitCambridgeEngland

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