We examine whether phonetic symbolism effects are conditional on the development of phonological awareness (an ability to recognize sounds in words). Further, we introduce sublexical priming as a means to enhance phonetic symbolism effects. Across four experiments, we demonstrate that product evaluations, consistent with phonetic symbolism theory, are more (less) likely when a child is older (younger). Specifically, older children who can recognize sounds in words perceive back vowel brand names (e.g., Vopoz) as slower, heavier, larger, smoother, creamier, chewier, and thicker than brand names with front vowel sounds (e.g., Vipiz). In addition, we show that phonetic symbolism effects manifest when younger children (low in phonological awareness) are primed to focus on parts of a word/s, which we term sublexical priming. We present embedded tasks and chunking of brand names as strategic communication techniques that can be implemented as sublexical primes to enhance phonetic symbolism effects in younger children.
- Phonetic symbolism
- Phonological awareness