In order to investigate differences in comfort and discomfort experiences amongst different regions of the world (America, Asia and Europe), a cross cultural study was performed. A questionnaire was sent to participants out in nine countries (Brazil, Canada, the USA, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands). In total 795 participants completed the questionnaires. All countries score the comfort of a luxurious bed higher than a simple bed, first-class seats higher than economy class and all countries rate the comfort lower when the duration of sitting increases. The study suggests that in the USA and Canada softer beds, hammocks, more luxurious seats and softer pillows are scored as more comfortable compared with the other countries. There are indications that China and Germany prefer a harder mattress than in the other countries. For pillows, the differences between countries are large, which might show that much is influenced by habitude or hesitation to use something new. The Asian countries score the comfort of a brace neck pillow higher, which might be because these participants better realise the benefits better or feel less concerned to wear something that might give the appearance of an orthotic device. Further studies are needed to confirm these suggestions. The study shows that obvious differences are seen in all countries, which makes the construct of comfort internationally comparable. Practitioner summary: In designing and manufacturing globally, it is important to know how different parts of the world experience (dis)comfort. This study did not show large cultural differences amongst nine countries. Some differences emerge regarding pillows, perhaps as differences in sleeping habits play a role. Abbreviations: MANOVA: multivariate analysis of variance; VDA: Vargha and Delaney’s A statistic; USA: United States of America.
- cross cultural
- different countries