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QWERTY keyboards change how you feel about words

Engadget Engadget 21/04/2016 Steve Dent
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The keyboard is mightier than the pen for written communications nowadays, and that apparently has a large impact on how we feel about words. A good example is the QWERTY effect, where words from the right side of the keyboard supposedly have more positive associations. For instance "hunky pinup" typed with the right hand supposedly makes you feel better than the left-side only phrase "sweet dress." Swiss and German researchers have concluded that the effect works all over the web, and applies to product names, film and book titles, and video clips.

The team studied millions of of names and titles from 11 sites including Yelp, Amazon and YouTube. On all but two of the sites, reviewers rated names and titles more favorably if they had a higher ratio of letters rightward from "y," "h" and "n." Weirdly, positive reviews on Yelp, Amazon and other sites also had more words with a high ratio of right-side letters.

The researchers feel that the study confirms a high level of QWERTY effect on the web, but didn't specify why it happens. They noted that even if people feel better about right-side dominant words, it doesn't necessarily affect our decisions, since the top products on Amazon don't have names that exhibit the effect. It could just be that it's a bit easier to type from the right, since it's the dominant hand for most folks and has fewer letters. However, linguistics professor Naomi Baron tells New Scientist that it also has more vowels, which are associated with positive emotions. "We don't put emotions into most of our consonants, we put them into our vowels."

Cornell University

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