Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date

Summer 2015


A synesthetic experience is characterized by the automatic stimulation of several divisions of cognitive processing by an inducer, followed by unique cognizance of an imagined object that incorporates multiple qualities. These perceived elements, collectively named the concurrent, include specific colors, sounds, textures, tastes, and spatial positions that are associated with the imagined object or figure. Synesthesia is a form of multisensory perception oftentimes described as a blending of the senses. The purpose of this study is twofold: to explore neural patterns of multisensory perception, as well as to identify the correlation between synesthesia type and personality profile. Personality types we anticipated would be positively correlated to time-space synesthesia were industriousness, and task planning while extraversion and fantasy proneness would be the strongest personality predictors of grapheme-color synesthesia. Openness was expected to be predictive of both synesthesia types whereas agreeableness would be negatively correlated to both grapheme-color and time-space synesthesia. This study included participants who self-identified as synesthetes as well as those who did not report any subtype of synesthetic experience (N=318, Mean age=36). Survey research included the Bergen questionnaire, and further identified personality traits using the Big Five Personality Inventory, Creative Experience evaluation, and Conscientiousness subscale. In order to conduct a comparative examination of self-reported personality qualities and synesthestisia type, Pearson’s correlation and hierarchical regression analyses were utilized in multilevel liner analysis. Statistical comparisons revealed that Openness (r=.17 p<.002), and Industriousness (r=0.14 p<0.02) are the strongest predictors of time-space synesthesia, while Task Planning (r=-.12 p<.03) is negatively correlated to number-space synesthesia. Consistently frequent reporting of openness and industriousness by number-space synesthetes point to several advantages of multisensory perception. Synesthesia research is a significant building block in the construction of public health and education policy, allowing for a more in-depth understanding of the interface between individuals and their communities through an analysis of sensory processing on an individual level. In view of the correlations between synesthesia and personality,There are implications for synesthesia research in monitoring neuropsychological health throughout human development.