The Role of Sound Symbolism in Product-Label Pairings Open Access

Linch, Michelle R. (2013)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/zs25x8517?locale=en
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Abstract

A basic assumption concerning natural language is that the relationship between sound and meaning is arbitrary. The sounds of language are thought to bear no resemblance to the objects and events to which they refer. However, many examples of non-arbitrary correspondences between sound and meaning have been found across languages, and language users are sensitive to this type of sound symbolism. The goal of the current research was to explore the role of sound symbolism in the applied domain of product labeling. A set of studies examined language users' sensitivity to sound symbolism in product labels and the features of labels, products, and tasks that influence product-label pairings. Across experiments, participants were asked to match printed labels with pictorial representations of products. Pairs of labels and product pictures reflected five dimensions: light/dark, fast/slow, light/warm, small/large, and light/heavy. In Experiments 1 and 2, product labels contrasted in a single vowel, and the task was varied to highlight differences in the labels or in product pictures. In Experiment 3, product labels contained vowel and consonantal sound symbolism. Results showed that participants' sensitivity to sound symbolic correspondences between labels and products varied as a function of the label type. Consistent mappings were made for labels containing multiple sound symbolic segments relative to labels containing a single contrasting segment and primarily for dimensions related to size. These findings suggest that sound symbolic correspondences may highlight relevant object or product dimensions for consumers and could be used to influence product appeal or memorability.

Table of Contents

Introduction.………………………………………………………………………….……1

Experiment 1

Stimuli………………………………………………………................................12

Participants……………………………………………………………………….13

Stimuli………………………………………………………................................13

Procedure…………………...…………………………………………………....14

Results and Discussion………………………………………………………......15

Experiment 2

Participants……………………………………………………………………….17

Stimuli………………………………………………………................................17

Procedure………………………………………………………………………...17

Results and Discussion………………………………………………………......18

Experiment 3

Participants……………………………………………………………………….20

Stimuli………………………………………………………................................20

Procedure…………………………………………………………………….......22

Results and Discussion……………………………………………......................22

General Discussion……………………………………………………………………....24

References……………………………………………………………………………......33

Appendix A: Experiment 1 & 2 Verbal Stimuli………………………………………….38

Appendix B: Product Pictures…..…………………………...…………………………..39

Light/Dark…..…………………………...………………………….....................39

Fast/Slow…..…………………………...…………………………......................40

Light/Heavy…..…………………………...…………………………..................41

Small/Large…..…………………………...…………………………..................42

Light/Warm…..…………………………...…………………………..................43

Appendix C: Experiment 3 Novel Verbal Stimuli……………………………………….44

Figure 1: Mean proportion accuracies by meaning (Exp. 1)…………………………….45

Figure 2: Mean proportion accuracies by meaning (Exp. 2)..…………………………...46

Figure 3: Mean proportion accuracies by meaning (Exp. 3)…………………………….47

Figure 4: Mean proportion accuracy by dimension (Exp. 1)……………………………………..48

Figure 5: Mean proportion accuracy by dimension (Exp. 2)……………………………………..49

Figure 6: Mean proportion accuracy by dimension (Exp. 3)……………………………………..50

Figure 7: Dimension comparison of mean proportion accuracies between Exp 2 & 3…51

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