Almost universally, our minds link sounds with certain shapes or visuals. The sound of B, M, L and O being associated with round shapes and the sound of K, T, P and I giving a picture of a spiky, thin shape.
People tend to perceive names as round or spiky and imagine these personalities on people they haven’t met or seen. Example: Names like Bob or Molly are perceived as round.
This unconscious association is known as the Bouba-Kiki Effect.
Names like Molly tend to sound agreeable and empathic, whereas names like Kate sound harsh and spiky, while also being perceived as someone who is an extrovert. Toddlers instinctively associate ‘round’ sounds with round shapes.
We see patterns and connections based on the sounds we hear and how they make us feel. Example: The smooth sound of an ‘m’ contrasts with the jarring sound of a ‘t’ and subtly alters our perception of the subject.
When we hear a name, our belief patterns, assumptions, biases and prejudices provide us with cues that can affect our judgement, and may or may not be factually correct.
This even leads to gender bias, as female names tend to have softer, timid sounds, indicating smallness.
Various studies prove that the unconscious judgments based on the name sound have no consistency when factually checked, and only exist in our minds.
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