Phonetic symbolism in an artificial language

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An analysis of previous studies suggested that certain letters and letter combinations occur more often than would be expected by chance in affectively pleasant words, while others are overrepresented in unpleasant words. On the basis of data from these prior investigations, 14 pairs of artificial words were constructed and randomly paired with 7 good and 7 bad adjectives. College, deaf high school, and hearing high school Ss were presented with the task of matching each of the English adjectives with the correct member of the artificial word pair presented with it. The college and hearing high school Ss matched as predicted significantly more often than chance expectancy, which deaf Ss did not. The results are interpreted as supporting the existence of phonetic symbolism of word sounds. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved)

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