Following Karwoski, Odbert, and Osgood (1942), it is proposed that cross-sensory correspondences can arise from extensive, bi-directional cross-activation between dimensions of connotative meaning. If this account is correct, the same set of cross-sensory correspondences (e.g., brightness with high pitch, high pitch with sharpness, smallness with brightness) should emerge regardless of the sensory channel (auditory, visual, or tactile) that is probed. To test this prediction, participants rated a range of auditory, visual, and tactile stimuli on a series of rating scales relating to different dimensions of connotative meaning.
With only a few minor exceptions, the same set of cross-sensory correspondences emerged from all types of stimulus variation. This supports the suggestion that cross-sensory correspondences reflect reciprocal interactions between dimensions of connotative meaning, and indicates that Spence’s (2011) theoretical framework might be usefully extended to include semantically-based correspondences.