The Visual Categorization of Production Automotive Seats on Descriptors of Comfort by End Users

Tugra Erol, Cyriel Diels, James Shippen, Dale Richards

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


The seat is the largest significant point of interaction with any vehicle (1), which plays an important role in the overall impression and appeal of that particular vehicle (2) . The concept of automotive seat comfort is regarded a highly subjective and multi-faceted phenomenon where comfort assessment is generally held with different tools and scales with increasing effort to quantify the feelings and impressions associated with the whole experience. Erol conducted a study to identify and analyze how the end users constructed the “holistic automotive seat comfort experience” which indicated that certain descriptors and category labels reflected certain visual and physical attributes as design cues forming the basis and the rationale for the descriptors utilized. In this respect, the main aim of this study was to explore the effects of the appearance of automotive seats, based on the hypothesis that visual design differentiation are affective in creating comfort expectations. This in return was expected to lead to a taxonomy of features and provide an understanding of the effects of attributes on comfort perception. The pre-determined descriptors of assessment for automotive seats were identified from the visual impression descriptors and also literature as Sporty, Luxurious and Comfortable . The particular inter-relationships between the descriptors were also of interest. A spectrum of 38 automotive seat designs were utilized from a manufacturer’s (OEM) website. A sample of 24 people (equal gender split, mean age = 35.5, SD=11.4) took part in the study where an image-based card sorting app (6) was utilized. The resulting data was analyzed with hierarchical clustering analysis (HCA) and non-parametric tests. The results indicated that the perceived sportiness, comfort and luxury were significant descriptor items in visually differentiating seats with certain design attributes. A striking finding was that for Sporty perception, both in HCA and graph plots based on the mean value ratings, two major clusters formed where the design stimuli displayed a “discontinuity” for the seats having integrated triangular headrests forming angular shapes. On the other hand Comfortable perception was more readily associated with separate headrest design and rounded seat back/cushion shapes.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2019
Event2nd International Comfort Congress - TU-Delft, Delft, Netherlands
Duration: 29 Aug 201930 Aug 2019
Conference number: 2nd


Conference2nd International Comfort Congress
Abbreviated titleICC2019
Internet address


  • Automotive
  • Seat
  • Comfort Experience
  • Visual impression
  • Attribute mapping

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

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    Erol, T., Diels, C., Shippen, J., & Richards, D. (2019). The Visual Categorization of Production Automotive Seats on Descriptors of Comfort by End Users. Paper presented at 2nd International Comfort Congress, Delft, Netherlands.