PERCEPTION AND EVALUATION OF (MODIFIED) WOOD BY OLDER ADULTS FROM SLOVENIA AND NORWAY
Background. Many building users prefer wood over other building materials, but it is unclear how modified wood is perceived compared to the unmodified wood. Additionally, it is unclear which material properties play a role in the general preference for wood, how tactile and tactile-visual perceptions of materials affect user preference for wood, and whether human preference for wood is consistent across countries and cultures with different wood use practices.
Method. 100 older adults from Slovenia and Norway rated and ranked wooden materials (i.e., handrails) made of either unmodified or modified wood and a stainless-steel control sample. The materials were rated on a semantic differential scale (capturing sensory and affective attributes) by each participant twice: first while only touching the materials and then while simultaneously touching and seeing the materials. Finally, each participant ranked the handrails in order of preference.
Results. Wooden handrails were generally more preferred than the steel sample. Preference ratings and rankings of modified wood were comparable to those of unmodified wood. Results were relatively consistent across both countries. Materials rated as liked were perceived as somewhat less cold, less damp, more usual, less artificial, more expensive, and less unpleasant. The ratings were fairly consistent between the tactile and tactile-visual task.
Conclusions. In at least some indoor applications, certain types of modified wood could be used in place of unmodified wood, while meeting human aesthetical preferences. Certain visual and tactile properties can predict material preference and could be considered in the material design phase. Tactile experience is important in overall material perception and should not be overlooked. These findings seem to be stable across countries with different wood use practices.
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