These days,. And it looks as if the layout of QWERTY keyboards is influencing the way we feel about certain words.
Our relationship with the written word has changed in the last few years.to how we read them on paper, for example. And using keyboards – both on phones and computers – has .
But keyboards may have an impact on the emotional associations we have with words as well. It has been found that words consisting of a higher proportion of letters from the right-hand side of a QWERTY keyboard – those from “y”, “h” and “n” onwards – have more positive associations.
Researchers have previously tested the idea by asking English, Dutch and Spanish speakers to rate their positive association with different words, including made-up ones such as “ploke” and “pleek”. One study even found that.
Now David Garcia at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and Markus Strohmaier at the Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Mannheim, Germany, have found evidence of the QWERTY effect all over the web.
The pair looked at millions of English-language product names and titles of books, films and video clips that appeared on 11 websites, including those of Amazon, YouTube and Rotten Tomatoes. On nine of those sites, items with names that had a higher ratio of letters from the right-hand side of the keyboard tended to be rated more highly by reviewers.
Garcia and Strohmaier also looked at the text of the reviews. Those that expressed a positive opinion were found to use a higher ratio of letters from the right of the keyboard too.
Garcia says that to begin with he did not believe the findings at all. But as they continued looking, the QWERTY effect popped up again and again. “It started appearing in one data set after another,” says Garcia.
He notes however that products with a greater right-side ratio in their names are not necessarily more successful. The top-selling products on Amazon do not display the QWERTY effect, for example. The pair presented the work at the International World Wide Web Conference in Montreal, Canada, last week.
The correlation with positive emotions is fascinating, saysat American University in Washington DC, who is author of Words Onscreen: The fate of reading in a digital world. “If you look at the origin of the QWERTY keyboard, it had nothing to do with emotions,” she says. “It had to do with not getting the keys entangled with one another.”
Other researchers who have studied the effect have suggested that the association may stem from the fact that words consisting of letters from the right of the keyboard are easier to type – given that there are fewer letters on that side for the right hand to cover.
Baron offers another possibility. The vowel sounds associated with letters on the right-hand side of the keyboard – “y”, “u”, “i” and “o” – are known to be linked with positive words and meanings. It could be that the sounds of the words, rather than the letters in them, are the key factor, she says. “We don’t put emotions into most of our consonants, we put them into our vowels.”
Garcia and Strohmaier are keen for others to dig into the results and have. “I think this is a question that’s worth exploring,” says Garcia.
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