Posts Tagged ‘risk perception’

Dangerous names?

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I recently stumbled across an interesting article on risk perception: If It’s Difficult to Pronounce, It Must Be Risky – Fluency, Familiarity and Risk perception. Researches from the University of Michigan had students read lists of fictious words and imagining that they were reading food lables and judge the hazard of each ingredient form very safe to very harmful. The words were divided in groups of easy-to-pronounce words (such as Magnalroxate) and difficult-to-pronounce words (i.e. Hnegripitrom). If I were to take the test I’d probably rank Magnalroxate as worse than Hnegripitrom – the “roxate” somehow reminds me of a pesticide or something like that. It turned out however (as expected) that substances with difficult-to-pronounce names were perceived as more harmful than substances with easy-to-pronounce names.