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Psychology   >   Cross Modal Correspondence: Synaesthetic Marketing

Sound Symbolism

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Cross Modal Correspondence: Synaesthetic Marketing

In this course, Professor Charles Spence (University of Oxford) explores the concept of cross modal correspondence and how the senses can interrelate. In the first lecture, we think about sound symbolism in object and brand representation. In the second lecture, we think about cross modal correspondence between sounds and shapes, including how the ‘bouba/kiki’ effect relates to brands of still and sparkling water. In the third lecture, we think about how ‘sonic seasoning’ can be used to change the taste of food and even result in a healthier meal. Next, we think about experiential marketing, focusing on a study of whiskey tasting across a variety of sound and visual environments. In the fifth and final lecture, we think about some of the ethical considerations that must be made when peering into the mind of the consumer using these techniques.

Sound Symbolism

In this lecture, we think about sound symbolism, focusing in particular on: (i) the ‘bouba/kiki effect’, first documented by Wolfgang Köhler in 1929, which is the phenomenon whereby people attribute the former word to a rounder shape, and the latter to a sharper one; (ii) Edward’s Sapir’s 1929 ‘mill’ and ‘mall’ effect, whereby people tend to label a larger object ‘mall’ and a smaller one ‘mill’; (iii) the presence of the ‘i’ and ‘e’ sounds for small products, including the Mini and Seat Mii cars, as well as budget shops like Lidl, Aldi, Iceland and Ikea; (iv) anti-cancer medications overrepresenting fast and light sounds like ‘bah’ and ‘ta’, as they are trying to convey the speed and lightness of their medicine.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Spence, C. (2022, April 27). Cross Modal Correspondence: Synaesthetic Marketing - Sound Symbolism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Spence, C. "Cross Modal Correspondence: Synaesthetic Marketing – Sound Symbolism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Apr 2022,

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Prof. Charles Spence

Prof. Charles Spence

University of Oxford