If it's difficult to pronounce, it must be risky

Psychol Sci. 2009 Feb;20(2):135-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02267.x. Epub 2009 Jan 2.

Abstract

Low processing fluency fosters the impression that a stimulus is unfamiliar, which in turn results in perceptions of higher risk, independent of whether the risk is desirable or undesirable. In Studies 1 and 2, ostensible food additives were rated as more harmful when their names were difficult to pronounce than when their names were easy to pronounce; mediation analyses indicated that this effect was mediated by the perceived novelty of the substance. In Study 3, amusement-park rides were rated as more likely to make one sick (an undesirable risk) and also as more exciting and adventurous (a desirable risk) when their names were difficult to pronounce than when their names were easy to pronounce.

MeSH terms

  • Food
  • Humans
  • Phonetics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Vocabulary*