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Psychol Res. 2012 Nov;76(6):693-8. doi: 10.1007/s00426-011-0374-z. Epub 2011 Aug 26.

Phonotactic probability of brand names: I'd buy that!

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  • 1Spoken Language Laboratory, Department of Psychology, University of Kansas, 1415 Jayhawk Blvd., Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


Psycholinguistic research shows that word-characteristics influence the speed and accuracy of various language-related processes. Analogous characteristics of brand names influence the retrieval of product information and the perception of risks associated with that product. In the present experiment we examined how phonotactic probability-the frequency with which phonological segments and sequences of segments appear in a word-might influence consumer behavior. Participants rated brand names that varied in phonotactic probability on the likelihood that they would buy the product. Participants indicated that they were more likely to purchase a product if the brand name was comprised of common segments and sequences of segments rather than less common segments and sequences of segments. This result suggests that word-characteristics may influence higher-level cognitive processes, in addition to language-related processes. Furthermore, the benefits of using objective measures of word characteristics in the design of brand names are discussed.

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