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Haptic Perception

  1. Susan J. Lederman1,
  2. Ryo Kitada1,
  3. Dianne Pawluk2

Published Online: 30 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470479216.corpsy0404

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology

How to Cite

Lederman, S. J., Kitada, R. and Pawluk, D. 2010. Haptic Perception. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.

Author Information

  1. 1

    Queen's University, Canada

  2. 2

    Virginia Commonwealth University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 30 JAN 2010


The human sense of touch consists of two principal subsystems. One of them, the “cutaneous” or “tactile” system, uses sensory information from mechanoreceptors and thermoreceptors embedded in the skin. The other, known as the “haptic” system, relies on all the sensory inputs used by the tactile system in combination with information from position and movement receptors in joints and muscles and force receptors in tendons. Haptic perception typically involves active manual exploration, although other parts of the body, such as the foot and tongue, may also be used for “touching.” When people use their haptic system, they tend to focus on their experiences of the external world of surfaces and objects and their properties (e.g., roughness, compliance, shape, weight, and so forth). In contrast, when their tactile system is passively stimulated, people tend rather to focus on their own internal subjective sensations, such as pressure, vibration, and warmth.


  • manual exploration;
  • material and geometric properties;
  • object recognition;
  • space perception;
  • multimodal perception