Mind Your Language: What Message do the Words in Your Ads Send?

The title of the study by University of Michigan researchers Hyunjin Song and Norbert Schwarz says it all: If It's Difficult to Pronounce, It Must Be Risky--Fluency, Familiarity, and Risk Perception. They base their conclusion, that the harder it is to pronounce something, the less familiar it seems and, therefore, the greater the risk it presents, on three studies. In Studies 1 and 2, food additives were rated as more harmful when their names were difficult to pronounce than when their names were easy to pronounce. Analyses of the data indicated that this was due to the perceived novelty of the substance. In Study 3, amusement-park rides were rated as more likely to make one sick (an undesirable risk) and also as more exciting and adventurous (a desirable risk) when their names were difficult to pronounce than when their names were easy to pronounce. Here is how the research was done: Subjects were asked to rat... [Read Full Article]