The sound of distance

Cristina D. Rabaglia, Sam J. Maglio, Madelaine Krehm, Jin H. Seok, Yaacov Trope

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Human languages may be more than completely arbitrary symbolic systems. A growing literature supports sound symbolism, or the existence of consistent, intuitive relationships between speech sounds and specific concepts. Prior work establishes that these sound-to-meaning mappings can shape language-related judgments and decisions, but do their effects generalize beyond merely the linguistic and truly color how we navigate our environment? We examine this possibility, relating a predominant sound symbolic distinction (vowel frontness) to a novel associate (spatial proximity) in five studies. We show that changing one vowel in a label can influence estimations of distance, impacting judgment, perception, and action. The results (1) provide the first experimental support for a relationship between vowels and spatial distance and (2) demonstrate that sound-to-meaning mappings have outcomes that extend beyond just language and can - through a single sound - influence how we perceive and behave toward objects in the world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)141-149
Number of pages9
JournalCognition
Volume152
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

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language
Language
symbolism
Phonetics
linguistics
Linguistics
Color
Sound
literature
Speech Sounds
Proximity
Symbolic Systems
Human Language
Sound Symbolism
Symbolism

Keywords

  • Distance
  • Language
  • Sound symbolism
  • Spatial cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

Cite this

Rabaglia, C. D., Maglio, S. J., Krehm, M., Seok, J. H., & Trope, Y. (2016). The sound of distance. Cognition, 152, 141-149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2016.04.001

The sound of distance. / Rabaglia, Cristina D.; Maglio, Sam J.; Krehm, Madelaine; Seok, Jin H.; Trope, Yaacov.

In: Cognition, Vol. 152, 01.07.2016, p. 141-149.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Rabaglia, CD, Maglio, SJ, Krehm, M, Seok, JH & Trope, Y 2016, 'The sound of distance', Cognition, vol. 152, pp. 141-149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2016.04.001
Rabaglia CD, Maglio SJ, Krehm M, Seok JH, Trope Y. The sound of distance. Cognition. 2016 Jul 1;152:141-149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cognition.2016.04.001
Rabaglia, Cristina D. ; Maglio, Sam J. ; Krehm, Madelaine ; Seok, Jin H. ; Trope, Yaacov. / The sound of distance. In: Cognition. 2016 ; Vol. 152. pp. 141-149.
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