The Aesthetic Appeal of Prosthetic Limbs and the Uncanny Valley: The Role of Personal Characteristics in Attraction
Stefania Sansoni, Andrew Wodehouse, Angus K. McFadyen, Arjan Buis


The aesthetics of prosthetic design is a field of study which until now has been subject to little investigation, and no research has been attempted before into the relationship of aesthetic attraction to devices and their human-likeness. The main aim of this paper is to explore this issue, testing the existence of a relationship between the Uncanny Valley (UV) (Mori, 1970) and prosthetic devices. The secondary aim is to explore whether or not attraction is related to the personal characteristics of the participants. We employed a cross-sectional questionnaire and involved 114 participants. The results did not demonstrate the existence of the UV for prostheses, as a high level of attraction to realistic devices was recorded; instead the data resulted in an “N-shaped” graph, showing only a small dip in attraction in relation to prostheses with human shape but with clear artificial patterns. Visual attraction to non-human-like devices was found, and the discriminating factors included gender and to a lesser extent nationality and the presence of amputation. This paper aims to set the basis for future investigations around the belief that prosthetic designs endorsing certain characteristics may be more suitable for some categories of prosthetic users in order to potentially achieve a greater satisfaction with their prostheses.

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