Chinese perceptions of implied hazard for signal words and surround shapes

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-80
Journal / PublicationHuman Factors and Ergonomics In Manufacturing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004


With the increase of international trade and communications, the issue - whether people in different cultures similarly interpret and understand the extent implied by signal words and their associated panels in warning design - is getting more and more interesting and important. Two experiments were conducted to collect data on perception of arousal strength of signal words and surround shapes of the Chinese population and to determine whether those findings for Chinese are validated for Americans. A total of 120 Chinese mainland subjects were tested in each of the experiments. In Experiment 1, 16 Chinese signal words were tested for their arousal strength. The results indicated that the words could imply different levels of hazard for the Chinese population. The comparative results revealed that both the Chinese and the Americans perceived similar levels of hazard in a signal word. In Experiment 2, six signal words and five different shapes were factorally combined to receive ratings on the perceived hazard level. Data indicated that both surround shapes and their interaction with signal words could connote different levels of hazard by the Chinese population. Their rank ordering of the shapes was found to be almost consistent with that of the Americans. Strong gender, age, and career effects were found in the two experiments. In general, there is only a minor difference in the perceived hazard for signal words and surround shapes between Chinese and American participants. However, it is suggested that care should be taken when the warning signs in facilities are designed for different populations.