Under the right circumstances, a home furnishing has the power to make visitors green around the gills. Such is the findings of a recent paper published in the journal Perception, "The sickening rug: a repeating static pattern that leads to motion-sickness-like symptoms."

In this study, researchers from Saint Peter's College discovered a particular carpet that exhibited "nauseogenic properties" (there's a patch of it at right, sorry). Naturally, they exposed a group of unwitting saps to its stomach-churning ugliness:

Naive observers viewed a 1:1 scale image of the black-and-white patterned rug and a homogeneous gray region of equivalent luminance in a counterbalanced within-subjects design. After 5 min of viewing, symptoms were assessed with the simulator sickness questionnaire (SSQ), yielding a total SSQ score and sub-scores for nausea, oculomotor symptoms, and disorientation. All four scores were significantly higher in the rug condition. Observers also reported significantly more self-motion perception in the rug condition, even though they were seated during the experiment. Results are consistent with findings that suggest that neurologically normal individuals who view a repeating static pattern can experience unpleasant symptoms, some of which are similar to motion sickness.


The researchers conclude the study with the valuable warning that consumers must be vigilant of unseemly floor coverings. This here is but the tip of the iceberg — I wager there's an entire CIA subdivision devoted to the subliminal powers of shag carpeting.

[Via Discover]