17:43 10 February 2017
Researchers have discovered our unconscious tendency to match specific sounds with specific shapes. The ‘bouba-kiki’ effect showed our tendency to pair soft-sounding word like ‘bouba’ with round shapes and sharp-sounding word such as ‘kiki’ with spiky-looking shapes.
Researchers from Duke-NUS Medical School and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore found that people made the connection even before they consciously saw either the word or the shape.
PhD candidate Shao-Min (Sean) Hung of Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore, first author on the research, said: 'This is the first report that congruence between a visual word form and the visual properties of a shape can influence behavior when neither the word nor the object has been seen,'
The researchers’ experiment involved the presentation of flashing images to the participants’ dominant eye and target image to their non-dominant eye. The target image was always a nonsense word such as kiki or bubu inside of a shape. The researchers found that the participants could see the target image faster when the word matched the shape compared to when it didn’t.
Hung added: 'All these findings expand the limit of unconscious processing, demonstrating that crossmodal mapping occurs outside of the realm of conscious awareness,'
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