Relationship between Phonemes and Tactile-emotional Evaluations in Japanese Sound Symbolic Words


Many languages have a word class whose speech sounds are linked to sensory experiences (sound symbolism). Here we investigated sound symbolism in touch. Specifically, we performed psychophysical experiments to study the relationship between phonemes of Japanese sound symbolic words and emotional evaluations of objects in contact. Participants expressed the sensation obtained from touched materials using Japanese sound symbolic words and evaluated the comfort of tactile sensation. Our results show the existence of unique associations between the phonemes of the words for expressing the sensation and the evaluations of comfort in touch. Next, we compared the results with those for a condition in which the evaluations of comfort on tactile materials were made without expressing the sensations. We found that when certain phonemes are used for expressing the sensation, the evaluations can be biased.

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