" Bouba" and " Kiki" in Namibia? A remote culture make similar shape-sound matches, but different shape-taste matches to Westerners

Andrew J. Bremner, Serge Caparos, Jules Davidoff, Jan de Fockert, Karina J. Linnell, Charles Spence

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Western participants consistently match certain shapes with particular speech sounds, tastes, and flavours. Here we demonstrate that the " Bouba-Kiki effect", a well-known shape-sound symbolism effect commonly observed in Western participants, is also observable in the Himba of Northern Namibia, a remote population with little exposure to Western cultural and environmental influences, and who do not use a written language. However, in contrast to Westerners, the Himba did not map carbonation (in a sample of sparkling water) onto an angular (as opposed to a rounded) shape. Furthermore, they also tended to match less bitter (i.e., milk) chocolate samples to angular rather than rounded shapes; the opposite mapping to that shown by Westerners. Together, these results show that cultural-environmental as well as phylogenetic factors play a central role in shaping our repertoire of crossmodal correspondences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-172
Number of pages8
JournalCognition
Volume126
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2013

Keywords

  • Cross-cultural
  • Crossmodal correspondence
  • Flavour
  • Shape symbolism
  • Sound symbolism
  • Taste

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

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