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Front in the mouth, front in the word: The driving mechanisms of the in-out effect

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Words for which the consonantal articulation spots wander from the front to the back of the mouth (inward) elicit more positive attitudes than words with the reversed order (outward). The present article questions the common theoretical explanation of this effect, namely an association between articulation movements and oral movements during ingestion and expectoration (inward resembles eating which is positive; outward resembles spitting which is negative). In 4 experiments (total N = 468), we consistently replicated the basic in-out effect; but no evidence was found supporting an eating-related underlying mechanism. The in-out effect was not modulated by disgust inductions (Experiments 1, 2, 4, and 10) or food deprivation (Experiment 3). In 6 further experiments (total N = 1,067), we explored a novel alternative explanation, namely that the in-out effect is simply a position-specific preference for front consonants over back consonants. In these experiments, we found in-out-like preference effects for fragments that lacked an actual front-to-back movement but featured only starting (e.g., B _ _ _ _) or ending (e.g., _ _ _ K) consonants (Experiments 6-8). Consonants that are articulated in the front of the mouth were generally preferred over those articulated in the back of the mouth, and this basic preference was stronger at the beginning of a word-like stimulus (Experiments 6-10), thus explaining the preference pattern of the in-out effect. The present evidence speaks against an eating-related (embodied) explanation and suggests a simple word-morphologic explanation of the in-out effect. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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Front in the Mouth, Front in the Word:
The Driving Mechanisms of the In-Out Effect
Ira Theresa Maschmann
University of Cologne
Anita Körner
University of Kassel
Lea Boecker
Leuphana University of Lüneburg
Sascha Topolinski
University of Cologne
Accepted for publication in
JOURNAL OF PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY
The research presented in this article is part of the dissertation of the first author.
Please address correspondence to: Ira Theresa Maschmann, Social and Economic Cognition II
University of Cologne, Richard-Strauss-Strasse 2, 50931, Cologne
E-mail: ira.maschmann.psych@gmail.com
©American Psychological Association, 2020. This paper is not the copy of record and
may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal.
Please do not copy or cite without author's permission. The final article is available,
upon publication, at: https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000196
In-out effect 2
Abstract (242)
Words for which the consonantal articulation spots wander from the front to the back of the
mouth (inward) elicit more positive attitudes than words with the reversed order (outward).
The present paper questions the common theoretical explanation of this effect, namely an
association between articulation movements and oral movements during ingestion and
expectoration (inward resembles eating which is positive; outward resembles spitting which is
negative). In four experiments (total N = 468), we consistently replicated the basic in-out
effect; but no evidence was found supporting an eating-related underlying mechanism. The in-
out effect was not modulated by disgust inductions (Experiments 1, 2, 4, and 10) or food
deprivation (Experiment 3). In six further experiments (total N = 1,067), we explored a novel
alternative explanation, namely that the in-out effect is simply a position-specific preference
for front consonants over back consonants. In these experiments, we found in-out-like
preference effects for fragments that lacked an actual front-to-back movement but featured
only starting (e.g., B _ _ _ _) or ending (e.g., _ _ _ K) consonants (Experiments 68).
Consonants that are articulated in the front of the mouth were generally preferred over those
articulated in the back of the mouth, and this basic preference was stronger at the beginning of
a word-like stimulus (Experiments 610), thus explaining the preference pattern of the in-out
effect. The present evidence speaks against an eating-related (embodied) explanation and
suggests a simple word-morphologic explanation of the in-out effect.
Key words: language; articulation; preference
In-out effect 3
Introduction
In the last years, a novel psycholinguistic effect on attitudes has been documented in
numerous papers by several independent labs, the so-called in-out effect. This effect was
originally published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Topolinski,
Maschmann, Pecher, & Winkielman, 2014) and has sparked over 15 replication and extension
papers in the highest outlets of psychology and marketing. In the original demonstration,
Topolinski et al. (2014) showed that specific consonantal articulation patterns affected
attitudes. Specifically, they construed words for which the articulation spots of the consonants
moved either from the front of the mouth to the back (inward, such as in BENOKA) or from
the back of the mouth to the front (outward, such as in KENOBA). In the original publication
as well as in various later lines of research, it was found that words that feature inward
articulation patterns (inward words) are preferred over words that feature outward articulation
patterns (outward words; Topolinski et al., 2014; Topolinski, Boecker, Erle, Bakhtiari, &
Pecher, 2017). This occurs even under silent reading, when participants only hear a speaker
uttering such words (Topolinski & Boecker, 2016a), and even when the stimulus words are
presented for only for only 50 ms (Gerten & Topolinski, 2018). The effect was replicated in
different languages (English, German, and Portuguese) and by different independent research
groups (Garrido, Godinho, & Semin 2019; Godinho & Garrido, 2016, 2017; Kronrod,
Lowrey, & Ackerman, 2015; Rossi, Pantoja, Borges, & Werle, 2017).
The in-out preference effect exhibits manifold social and behavioral consequences,
which underline its subtle yet notable relevance. For instance, when choosing chat partners for
an interaction, people with inward-names were preferred over those with outward-names
(Topolinski et al., 2014, Experiment 3, 7, and 8). Even inward persons’ initials were (at least
descriptively) preferred over outward initials (Topolinski & Boecker, 2016a, Experiment 5a &
5b). Concerning person perception, persons with inward names were judged to be more
sociable than persons with outward names (Garrido et al., 2019). In the domain of economic
In-out effect 4
decision-making, the in-out preference effect has even monetary implications. Inward brand
names have been found to increase consumers’ willingness-to-pay (Topolinski, Zürn, &
Schneider, 2015); and profiles of eBay sellers with inward names were rated to be more
trustworthy and more frequently chosen than sellers with outward usernames (Silva &
Topolinski, 2018). Regarding behavioral consequences, the in-out preference influences
consumer preferences (Silva & Topolinski, 2018; Topolinski, 2017), preferences for brand
names (Godinho & Garrido, 2017; Godinho, Garrido, Zürn, & Topolinski, 2019), palatability
ratings of food (Topolinski & Boecker, 2016b), and even food consumption (Rossi et al.,
2017).
Despite the versatility and replicability of this effect, its underlying mechanisms
remain unclear. The authors of the original demonstration (Topolinski et al., 2014) proposed
an explanation based on ingestion-related associations between articulation and food intake.
1
The logic is the following. The oral motor system has two main functions, food intake and
language production (Rozin, 1999). Moreover, the oral muscular activity for these two
functions can be similar (Goyal & Mashimo, 2006). Specifically, when articulation mouth
movements wander inwards, they resemble ingestive eating acts, like swallowing; and when
they wander outwards, they resemble expectorative oral acts, like spitting. Through learned
associations, ingestive acts are positive and expectorative acts are negative (Rozin, 1996);
therefore, inward articulation induces a positive feeling and outward articulation induces a
negative feeling. This association between articulation and food intake follows the broader
notion of embodiment (Schubert & Semin, 2009), or grounded cognition (Barsalou, 2008),
stating that the perception and production of language is shaped by non-linguistic
1
There are also two publications that provide (in)direct evidence for a fluency explanation of the in-out effect
(Bakhtiari, Körner, & Topolinski, 2016; rner, Bakhtiari, & Topolinski, 2019), that is, inward words are easier
to articulate than outward words and are thus liked more. We will discuss the implications of the present
evidence for this conjecture in the General Discussion.
In-out effect 5
sensorimotor states (e.g., Fischer & Zwaan, 2008; Körner, Topolinski, & Strack, 2015;
Willems & Casasanto, 2011).
The first section of this paper will provide experiments testing implications of such an
eating-related explanation. The second section will introduce and test a novel alternative
word-morphologic explanation.
Part I: Testing implications of an eating-related account
Recently, research has started to test possible implications of an eating-related
explanation of the in-out effect. These studies followed the logic that preference for
articulation patterns would interact with the eating-related semantic meaning of the denoted
object. Topolinski et al. (2017) manipulated the valence, edibility, and oral motor affordance
of objects that bore either inward or outward names. The results were mixed. Extreme
variations in edibility and valence of denoted objects modulated the in-out effect, in the way
that participants liked outward words more than inward words when these words denoted
toxic chemicals (a reversal of the in-out effect). However, when pitting object valence against
oral motor affordance (e.g., mouthwash being a positive object that has to be spat out, or a pill
being a negative object that still has to be swallowed), motor affordance and not object
valence influenced the strength of the in-out effect, with objects requiring intake responses
triggering a slightly stronger in-out effect than objects requiring expectoration responses.
Controlling for valence more carefully, Godinho et al. (2019) found an in-out effect for edible,
but not for in-edible products, while keeping valence constant across products.
These findings can be interpreted as providing evidence in favor of an eating-related
account because they find assimilation effects between articulation and denoted (eating-
related) meaning. In the first part of this paper, we will extend this evidence by manipulating
eating-related internal states of the participant instead of the denoted object. Following an
assimilation effect logic, internal states that are related to food intake (such as hunger) should
increase the in-out effect, while states related to expectoration (such as disgust) should
In-out effect 6
diminish or even reverse it. However, social psychology has documented both assimilation
and contrast effects in various domains, contingent on a multitude of psychological
moderators (for a recent brief review, see Bless & Burger, 2016). Also, the conceptually
underspecified eating mechanism of the in-out effect does not provide highly constrained
predictions regarding assimilation or contrast, nor does it offer testable process explanations.
For instance, disgust could also evoke a contrast effect by rendering oral inward responses
more efficient to compensate for the negativity of disgust. Also, internal states that foster
inward responses (such as hunger) might overshadow articulation simulations and thereby
decrease the in-out effect.
The following experiments examine whether preferences for inward over outward
words are affected by eating-related internal states, leading either to assimilation or contrast.
For this, we manipulated internal eating-related states with established experimental methods,
supported by successful manipulation checks, to explore whether and how they interact with
the in-out effect. First, disgust was induced by having participants watch disgusting video
clips (Experiments 1 and 4) and by having them smell disgusting odors (Experiment 2).
Second, hunger was induced by food-deprivation (Experiment 3). We tested the impact of
these internal states on both preference ratings for inward and outward words (Experiments 1-
3) and reading latencies (Experiment 4).
Data Treatment and a Priori Power Analysis
For the experiments reported in this paper, we report all exclusion of data (if any), all
manipulations, and all measures. Materials and data for all experiments will be made public
upon publication. Assuming a small effect size of f = .14 (and a correlation of r = .5 for the
within-factor) to detect a 2 X 2 within-between interaction with a power of .80, G*Power
(Faul, Erdfelder, Lang, & Buchner, 2007) yields Nrequired = 104. For Experiment 2, featuring a
within-design, sample sizes comparable to the other experiments were collected to enhance
statistical power. All experiments were part of larger experimental batteries and due to
In-out effect 7
experimental flow, the actual sample sizes differ slightly from the proposed sample sizes. To
test null-effects, Bayesian ANOVAs were conducted because frequentist tests are unable to
quantify evidence in favor of the null-hypothesis. These analyses used the default priors
offered by the software JASP (JASP Team, 2018). The experiments described were conducted
on the campus of two different German universities and contain a disproportionately large
number of young female participants.
Experiment 1: Visual Disgust Induction
The two first experiments induced internal states of disgust in the participants.
Following an assimilation logic, disgust should activate expectoration-related kinematics,
which might prime and thereby favor articulatory oral outward movements, which should
attenuate the in-out effect.
Method
Participants. N = 124 participants (90 female, 34 male; aged 18-63 years, Mage = 25,
SDage = 8) from a local participant pool were recruited in exchange for monetary
compensation of €7 or partial course credit (the experiment was part of a larger battery of
experiments).
Emotion-inducing video clips. For the emotion manipulation, we used six neutral and
six disgust-inducing video clips that had been used in previous experiments and verified to be
neutral (de Jong, van Overveld, & Peters, 2011; Gross & Levenson, 1995; Han, Lerner,
Zeckhauser, 2012; Hewig et al., 2005; Lerner, Small, & Loewenstein, 2004; Rottenberg, Ray,
& Gross, 2007) or to induce disgust (de Jong et al., 2011; Gross & Levenson, 1995; Han et al.,
2012; Hewig et al., 2005; Lerner et al., 2004; Rohrmann, Hopp, & Quirin, 2008; Sarlo,
Buodo, Munafò, Stegagno, & Palomba, 2008; Stark et al., 2005; Tomarken, Davidson, &
Henriques, 1990). The neutral video clips showed, for example, scenes of nature or everyday
social scenes. The disgust-inducing video clips showed contact with bodily fluids or small
In-out effect 8
animals; for example, an invasion by cockroaches or a person vomiting, thereby strongly
evoking oral disgust. Each video clip lasted 2841 seconds and was presented without sound.
Pilot test: Manipulation validation. To assure that disgust induced by videos is
associated with oral outward kinematics, we let participants indicate their actual swallowing
versus spitting intentions after being presented with the videos. N = 76 German-speaking
participants were approached on campus and completed the manipulation validation study. In
a between-subjects design, they were presented with three of the disgusting versus neutral
videos, respectively. After they had seen the three videos, participants were asked to indicate
their current oral intentions on a five-point scale ranging from 1 (swallowing) to 5 (spitting).
Results showed that participants in the disgust condition rather had the intention of spitting (M
= 3.21, SD = 0.98 compared to participants in the neutral condition (M = 2.43, SD = 0.73),
t(74) = 3.89, p < .001, d = 0.90, 95% CI [0.38, 1.17], indicating that the video disgust
induction employed in Experiments 1 and 4 is motivationally associated with expectoration
and therefore outward kinematics.
Materials. As word stimuli, we used a subsample of 30 inward words and 30 outward
words derived from Stimulus pool C designed for German phonation from Topolinski et al.
(2014). To create these words, consonants of three different articulation spots on the sagittal
plane of the mouth were chosen (IPA, 1999), from the front of the mouth (labial: B, M, P, W),
the middle (alveolar: D, L, N, S, T), and the back (velar/uvular: G, K, R). All possible
combinations of these consonants were created where the order either led inward (front-
middle-back) or outward (back-middle-front). Random vowels were added, to create words
which are pronounceable. Vowel phonation was not manipulated since the articulation of
vowels does not contain as distinct and well-localizable muscle tensions as consonants
(Ladefoged, 2001). Moreover, Topolinski and Boecker (2016a) tested the impact of forward
and backward vowel jumps in two experiments and did not find any effect on preference
ratings.
In-out effect 9
Procedure. After providing informed consent, participants were told that the present
study examined attentional processes when switching between different tasks. They were
informed that one task consisted in watching short video clips on which they were to answer
questions, while the other task consisted in evaluating artificial words. We presented the
emotion-eliciting videos and word evaluation in six identical short blocks. Each block started
with a video clip. Then participants evaluated 10 randomly sampled in- and 10 randomly
sampled outward words for liking on a nine-point scale ranging from 1 (do not like this word
at all) to 9 (like the word very much). Afterwards, they were asked to evaluate the video for
pleasantness on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 (not at all pleasant) to 5 (very pleasant) and
answer one question concerning the content of the video (to ensure attention to all videos).
Then the next block followed.
After they had completed all six blocks of emotion induction and word evaluation, a
manipulation check assessing participants emotional state ensued (Merten & Krause, 1993;
Cronbach’ α = .93 for the disgust subscale). Finally, after a questionnaire concerning disgust
sensitivity (Schienle, Walter, Stark, & Vaitl, 2002; which will not be mentioned further),
participants provided demographic information, and answered a few questions concerning the
video and the experiment.
Results and discussion
The manipulation check was significant. Participants in the disgust condition felt more
disgusted (M = 3.49, SD = 1.18) compared to participants in the neutral condition (M = 1.20,
SD = 0.38), t(70) = 14.35, p < .001, d = 2.58, 95% CI [2.02, 3.13]. A 2 (Articulation direction:
inward vs. outward; within-subjects) X 2 (Emotion: disgust vs. neutral; between-subjects)
mixed model ANOVA found a significant main effect for articulation direction, F(1, 122) =
18.67, p < .001, η𝑝
2 = .13, 95% CI [0.05, 0.23], with inward words (M = 4.29, SE = 0.10)
being preferred over outward words (M = 4.16, SE = 0.11)replicating the basic in-out effect.
However, neither the main effect for emotion, F(1, 122) = 0.01, p >.90, nor the interaction
In-out effect 10
between emotion and articulation direction was significant, F(1, 122) = 0.55, p = .46, η𝑝
2 <
.01, 95% CI [0.00, 0.04]. Thus, disgust did not modulate the in-out effect. Indeed, post-hoc
tests showed that the in-out effect was significant for both emotion conditions (statistics can
be found in Table 1); neutral: t(63) = 2.19, p = .033, dz = 0.27, 95% CI [0.02, 0.52]; disgust:
t(59) = 4.59, p < .001, dz = 0.59, 95% CI [0.32, 0.87].
Table 1
Conditional means (and standard errors) for preference ratings as a function of articulation
direction and video type in Experiment 1. Ratings were reported on a 1 to 9 scale.
Condition
Inward
words
Outward
words
dz
95% CI
Neutral
videos
4.27 (0.15)
4.16 (0.16)
0.27
0.02 0.52
Disgusting
videos
4.31 (0.15)
4.17 (0.14)
0.59
0.32 0.87
To substantiate this notion, we conducted a Bayesian ANOVA. For the inclusion of the
interaction term, a Bayes Factor of BF01 = 4.268 was found, which is conventionally
described as moderate evidence against the inclusion of the additional factor into the model
and thus against the presence of the predicted interaction.
Thus, even though the manipulation check confirms that participants in the disgust
condition experienced marked disgust compared to the neutral condition and the manipulation
validation study had shown that an oral expectoration intention was induced by the disgusting
videos, this did not influence participants’ preferences for inward compared to outward words.
Experiment 2: Olfactory Disgust Induction
The rationale of Experiment 1 was replicated with a physiologically more immediate
induction of disgust, namely an unpleasant, bitter versus a pleasant, sweet odor.
In-out effect 11
Method
Participants. N = 127 (79 female, 40 male; Mage 28, SDage = 9; for 8 participants,
demographic data was not recorded) German-speaking participants were recruited via a local
participant pool and participated in this study for a monetary reward of €7 or course credit.
Disgust-inducing odor. For the disgust manipulation, an unpleasant bitter odor was
used; the control condition contained a pleasant sweet odor. The bitter odor was a liquid that
consisted of a mixture of vinegar and dissolved cigarette ends. The sweet odor was a liquid
with a chocolate note. The odors were presented in neutral non see-through bottles that were
labelled with A and B and placed on the desk the participant sat on. The order in which the
odors were presented was counterbalanced across participants.
Materials. The same stimulus pool as in Experiment 1 was used (Stimulus pool C from
Topolinski et al., 2014) and stimuli were randomly sampled anew for each participant from
the pool of 60 inward words and 60 outward words.
Procedure. Participants were informed that they had to evaluate words as possible
brand names for odors. The task was divided into two blocks with a similar procedure. In the
first block, participants were instructed which one of the odors to smell first. The little bottles
that contained the odors were provided on the desk in front of them. After smelling the odor in
a given block, 15 inward words and 15 outward words were presented on the screen in
random order and were rated on their fitting for the odor on a 11-point scale, ranging from 0
(do not like this word at all for the odor) to 10 (like the word very much for the odor). After
each block, as a manipulation check, the pleasantness of the odor was rated on an 11-point
scale, ranging from 0 (do not like this odor at all) to 10 (like the odor very much). Then
participants could rest for around 2 minutes before the second block started. In the second
block, the second odor, the one that had not been smelled before, was used. Afterwards,
participants provided demographic data.
Results and discussion
In-out effect 12
Mistyped responses (exceeding the scale) were discarded (6 of 6140, < 0.1 %). The
manipulation check was significant, the unpleasant, bitter odor was liked less (M = 2.20, SE =
0.23) compared to the pleasant, sweet odor (M = 8.35, SE = 0.14), t(126) = 21.58, p < .001, dz
= 1.92, 95% CI [1.62, 2.21].
A 2 (Articulation direction: inward vs. outward) X 2 (Odor: bitter vs. sweet) repeated
measures ANOVA found a marginally significant main effect for articulation direction,
F(1,125) = 3.48, p = .064, η𝑝
2 = .03, 95% CI [0.00, 0.11], with inward words (M = 4.53, SE =
0.10) being preferred over outward words (M = 4.44, SE = 0.10), replicating the basic in-out
effect (see statistics in Table 2). Additionally, a significant main effect for odor, F(1, 125) =
4.65, p = .036, η𝑝
2 = .04, 95% CI [0.00, 0.12], was found. Stimulus words were in total judged
to fit better with the bitter odor (M = 4.65, SE = 0.14) than with the sweet odor (M = 4.30, SE
= 0.13). Crucially there was no interaction between odor and articulation direction, F(1, 125)
= 0.19, p = .67.
Table 2
Conditional means (and standard errors) for preference ratings as a function of articulation
direction and olfactory disgust induction in Experiment 2. Ratings were reported on a 0 to 10
scale.
Condition
Inward
words
Outward
words
dz
95% CI
Pleasant
odor
4.33 (0.13)
4.27 (0.13)
0.08
-0.09 0.26
Disgusting
odor
4.73 (0.15)
4.62 (0.16)
0.13
-0.05 0.30
In-out effect 13
This notion was substantiated by a Bayesian ANOVA, which found a Bayes Factor of
BF01 = 7.213, constituting moderate evidence against the presence of the predicted
interaction.
Thus, even the physiologically strong and imminent induction of disgust via odors did
not modulate the in-out effect. Of course, one might argue that this olfactory induction is not
related to the mouth (but obviously to the nose), but aversive smell is the strongest elicitor of
disgust (Schienle, Schäfer, Stark, Walter, & Vaitl, 2005).
Experiment 3: Food deprivation
Here, we explored whether hunger would modulate the in-out effect. Physiological
need states such as hunger or thirst have been shown to activate appetitive responses in the
oral system (Rozin, 1996; Topolinski & Türk Pereira, 2012). Following an assimilation
account, hunger should therefore increase the in-out effect by particularly priming and thus
favoring oral inward kinematics. Moreover, in addition to inward and outward words, we
assessed the preference for control words consisting of mixed articulation directions (see
Topolinski et al., 2014, Experiment 6).
Method
Participants. N = 117 participants were recruited via a local participant pool and
participated in this study (in a larger battery of experiments) for a monetary reward of €7 or
course credit. Due to technical errors, demographic data along with the crucial hunger rating
as manipulation check was only available for N = 114 participants (89 female, 25 male; Mage
27, SDage = 9) which were included in the reported analysis. The other three participants were
excluded from all analyses.
Food deprivation. Participants randomly assigned to the food deprivation condition
(N = 58) were informed that the experiment would include a food deprivation and were asked
to forgo any food intake within the 3 hours before the experiment. They were reminded of this
In-out effect 14
requirement via a phone call by the experimenter the evening before the experiment took
place. Participants who attended the experimental session in the morning hours (until 12 p.m.)
were asked to consume the last food in the evening and to not consume any food in the
morning. Participants in the control condition (N = 56) were instructed to have a proper meal
within the three hours before the experiment to ensure that they are not hungry.
Materials. The stimulus pool that was used in the previous experiments, introduced by
Topolinski et al. (2014) and containing 60 inward words and 60 outward words was extended
with a control condition of 60 nonsense words that did not feature systematic inward and
outward articulation patterns, for instance LIGEMO.
Procedure. Participants were informed that perception and reading processes were
investigated. First, participants’ hunger was recorded on a 7-point scale from 1 (not at all
hungry) to 7 (very hungry). Then participants were presented with 30 inward, outward, and
control words each (sampled anew for each participant) and rated them on an 11-point scale,
ranging from 0 (do not like this word at all) to 10 (like the word very much). After completing
the task, participants filled out a questionnaire that recorded questions concerning their
commitment to the hunger deprivation-instructions and demographic data. Then, participants
were paid and dismissed.
Results and discussion
The food deprivation worked, as participants in the deprivation condition reported much
higher levels of hunger (M = 4.74, SE = 0.20) than participants in the control condition (M =
1.38, SE = 0.12), t(112) = 14.33, p < .001, d = 1.34, 95% CI [1.09, 1.60] and all participants
reported levels of hunger that were in accordance with their deprivation condition.
A 3 (Articulation direction: inward vs. outward vs. control; within-subjects) X 2
(Deprivation: food deprivation vs. control condition; between-subjects) mixed-model
ANOVA yielded a significant main effect for articulation direction, F(2, 111) = 17.96, p <
.001, ηp² = .24, CI [0.11, 0.36], with inward words (M = 4.90, SE = 0.11) being liked more
In-out effect 15
than outward words (M = 4.59, SE = 0.11) and the control words falling in-between (M =
4.73, SE = 0.10), very similar to the earlier pattern of control words (see Topolinski et al.,
2014, Experiment 6; statistics can be found in Table 3). Crucially, neither the main effect of
food deprivation, F(1, 112) = 0.01, p = .91, nor the interaction between articulation direction
and deprivation, F(2, 111) = 0.16, p = .86, reached significance.
Table 3
Conditional means (and standard errors) for preference ratings as a function of articulation
direction and food deprivation in Experiment 3. Ratings were reported on a 0 to 10 scale.
Condition
Inward
words
Control
words
Outward
words
η𝑝
2
95 % CI
F-test
Saturated
4.91
(0.15)
4.75
(0.15)
4.59
(0.15)
0.29
0.09 - 0.44
F(2, 56) = 11.34, p < .001
Food
deprived
4.89
(0.16)
4.70
(0.14)
4.59
(0.15)
0.21
0.04 - 0.37
F(2, 54) = 7.09, p = .002
A Bayesian ANOVA supported these results. A Bayes Factor of BF01 = 16.676 for this
interaction was found, which is conventionally described as “strong” evidence against the
presence of the predicted interaction. Additionally, no correlation between self-reported
hunger and the magnitude of the in-out effect could be found, r = -.01, p = .92.
To conclude, neither food deprivation nor experienced hunger modulated the in-out
effect. This mirrors earlier evidence that the in-out effect for ratings of palatability of dishes
that were labelled with inward and outward words did not correlate with participants’ hunger
(Topolinski & Boecker, 2016b; note that hunger was not manipulated actively in that earlier
study).
Experiment 4: Video Disgust Induction on Reading Latencies
In-out effect 16
As a final experiment, we gauged the impact of disgust on reading latencies for inward
and outward words, since it has been shown earlier that the in-out effect is partially mediated
by processing fluency (Bakhtiari, Körner, & Topolinski, 2016).
Method
Participants. N = 100 (80 female, 18 male, 2 divers; Mage 23, SDage = 4) were
recruited via a local participant pool and participated in this study for a monetary reward of €2
or course credit.
Materials and procedure. The set-up of Experiment 1 was replicated with the
following modification. Instead of indicating the liking, participants were instructed to read
the respective target word as fast as possible and press the space bar once they were finished
(an established measure of reading fluency, Topolinski & Strack, 2009; Bakhtiari et al., 2016).
For the sake of experimental efficacy, Experiment 4 only consisted of five blocks of video and
stimulus presentation instead of six as in Experiment 1.
Results and discussion
The manipulation check was significant again. Participants in the disgust condition felt
more disgusted (M = 3.78, SD = 0.12) compared to participants in the neutral condition (M =
1.80, SD = 0.10), t(98) = 13.06, p < .001, d = 1.31, 95% CI [1.04, 1.58].
Following Bakhtiari et al. (2016), trials with latencies faster than 300 ms and slower
than 3000 ms were discarded (6.7 % of all trials). A 2 (Articulation direction: inward vs.
outward; within-subjects) X 2 (Emotion: disgust vs. neutral; between-subjects) mixed model
ANOVA found a significant main effect for articulation direction, F(1, 98) = 12.13, p < .001,
η𝑝
2 = .13, 95% CI [0.02, 0.23], with faster reading of inward words (M = 738 ms, SE = 24)
compared to outward words (M = 762 ms, SE = 25), replicating earlier evidence (Bakhtiari et
al., 2016). Emotion condition had no significant impact, F(1, 98) = 3.16, p = .079. Crucially,
no interaction between articulation direction and emotion was found, F(1, 98) = 0.16, p = .69,
η𝑝
2 < .01, 95% CI [0.00, 0.04]. Again post-hoc tests revealed a significant in-out effect in both
In-out effect 17
emotion conditions (statistics can be found in Table 4); neutral: t(49) = 2.59, p = .013, dz =
0.37, 95% CI [0.08, 0.65]; disgust: t(49) = 2.73, p = .009, dz = 0.39, 95% CI [0.10, 0.67]. The
Bayesian ANOVA yielded a Bayes Factor of BF01 = 8.005 for this interaction, constituting
moderate evidence against the interaction.
Table 4
Conditional means (and standard errors) for reading latencies as a function of articulation
direction and video type in Experiment 4. Trials < 300 ms and trials > 3000 ms were discarded.
Condition
Inward
words
Outward
words
dz
95% CI
t-test
Neutral
videos
696 (33)
717 (34)
0.37
0.08 0.65
t(49) = 2.59,
p = .013
Disgusting
videos
780 (35)
806 (37)
0.39
0.10 0.67
t(49) = 2.73,
p = .009
Although we again successfully induced disgust, this aversive expectoration-related
state did not modulate the in-out effect as measured by reading latencies.
Interim Conclusion
In four experiments, we tested whether manipulating eating-related internal states
(inducing disgust and making people hungry) would modulate the in-out effect. Although the
manipulation checks showed that our inductions were effective, the in-out effect as well as
reading latency were not at all modulated by those states.
Thus, we did not find assimilation effects between articulation direction and internal
eating-related states of participants, such as Godinho et al. (2019) and Topolinski et al. (2017)
found for denoted eating-relating meaning of objects; nor did we find contrast effects. Instead,
Bayesian analyses consistently resulted in moderate to strong evidence against a moderation
of the in-out effect. This lacking modulation of the in-out effect by internal eating-related
In-out effect 18
states does not necessarily refute an eating-related explanation of it, since it might be that such
transient situational states do not interact with the hard-wired overlearned association between
articulation and eating kinematics, or assimilation and contrast effects cancel out each other.
However, the present evidence is also not supportive of an eating account. Thus, to enrich the
conceptual arena regarding the driving mechanisms of the in-out effect, the second part will
develop and test a novel possible explanation.
Part II: A Word-Morphologic Explanation of the In-Out Effect
In the very logic of the in-out effect, there is a core assumption that has not yet been
questioned let alone tested empirically, namely that the effect is about inward and outward
trajectories. All previous theorizing and all previous experiments in the literature on the in-out
effect entailed the simple logic that inward words are preferred over outward words because
the former move from the front to the back of the mouth (e.g., B_ _ K), while the latter move
from the back to the front of the mouth (e.g., K _ _ B). That is, the undisputed assumption was
that the front-to-back versus back-to-front trajectory is necessary for the in-out effect to occur.
However, there are similarly plausible and even more parsimonious explanations. One is that
the effect hinges on the identity of the starting consonants alone. It could be that inward words
are preferred over outwards words because the former start at the front of the mouth (e.g., B _
_ _) and the latter start in the back of the mouth (e.g., K _ _ _). Likewise, it could hinge on the
identity of the ending letter alone. It is possible that inward words are preferred over outward
words because the former end in the back of the mouth (e.g., _ _ _K) and the latter end at the
front of the mouth (e.g., _ _ _ B). These two much more parsimonious alternative
explanations thus postulate that the in-out effect is driven by preferences for specific
consonants in specific positions of a word, not by systematic relations between starting and
ending consonants, that is, by certain articulatory movements. This account was tested in Part
II.
In-out effect 19
To test the impact of specific consonants in specific positions of a word on evaluative
ratings, stimuli were created whose consonant articulation spot and its position in the word
were manipulated orthogonally. These stimuli only consisted of consonants that were
articulated in the very front or the very back of the mouth and that were positioned at the
beginning or the ending of a word. To avoid any possible confounds, instead of traditional
word stimuli, words fragments were used. These word fragments only contained the
respective front versus back consonants in starting or ending positions, followed or preceded
by underscores. In the first experiment of Part II, we used stimuli that consisted of two
consonants (front vs. back) that were positioned at the start and end of a word fragment (2-
consonant fragments; e.g., M _ _ _ _ K, K _ _ _ _ M) to validate this new form of in-out
stimuli. Conceptually, these stimuli resembled the letter pairs that were used in Topolinski
and Boecker (2016a, Experiment 3), since they entailed a front consonant and a back
consonant and therefore covered the entire front-to-back trajectory. Showing that these stimuli
produce the inout effect demonstrates that word fragments are a valid means for examining
the inout effect.
In the remaining experiments, we used minimized stimuli to account for the
orthogonal contributions of position in the word and articulation spot, which were confounded
in all previous operationalizations in the literature. Stimuli now either contained one
consonant in the starting position (1-consonant fragments; e.g., M _ _ _ _, K _ _ _ _) or in the
ending position (e.g., _ _ _ _ M, _ _ _ _ K), crucially, with these consonants either being
articulated in the very front or the very back of the mouth. If preference effects evoked by 1-
consonant stimuli that do not entail any inward or outward trajectory but merely activate a
front or back articulation spot within the mouth are comparable with the in-out preferences of
2-consonant stimuli, this would question the role of oral inward movements. For the final two
experiments, a full orthogonalization of position in the word and articulation spot was
implemented for the first time. To do so, we extended the in-out stimuli used in Experiment 5
In-out effect 20
with the missing cells, namely 2-consonant fragments that featured front consonants (e.g., _
M _ _ _ _ B _) or back consonants (e.g., _ G _ _ _ _ K _) in starting and ending positions.
Given the former evidence, this last operationalization should show whether the in-out effect
depends on oral movements or can be pinned down to be a word-morphologic preference
effect.
Data Treatment and a Priori Power Analysis
We report all exclusion of data (if any), all manipulations, and all measures for all
experiments in this line of experiments. Data for all experiments and the preregistrations of
Experiments 7 (https://osf.io/yvws2/?view_only=d194fa1e5939403d8dfb6b0bf17a4585) and
8 (https://osf.io/zwn4v/?view_only=9de659f5bc2c43b5a22450e0f715f2a5) will be made
public upon publication. All stimuli can be found in the Appendix. Based on the results of
Topolinski and Boecker (2016a) who already employed realizations of the in-out effect using
only starting and ending consonants (e.g., the consonant pair BK vs. KB) but who did not test
the present hypothesis, we assumed an effect size of dz = .45 for the in-out effect. To detect
the in-out effect with a power of .95, G*Power (Faul et al., 2007) yields Nrequired = 55. To
assure that also weaker effects are detected, we arbitrarily set the samples sizes to N = 100 for
Experiments 5 and 6. Based on the results of those two experiments, we decided to massively
overpower Experiment 7 with N = 300, Experiment 8 (featuring a combined within design of
Experiments 5 and 7) with N = 150, Experiment 9 with N = 200 and Experiment 10 (featuring
a between design) with N = 200 to be able to find small effects. Experiments 5-9 were
conducted on the campus of a German university and contain a disproportionately large
number of young female participants. Experiment 10 was conducted online and replicates our
findings on a sample that entailed more male and older participants.
Experiment 5: In-Out Effects with Word Fragments
In this first experiment of the present line of experiments, we first wanted to establish
the basic in-out effect using the whole front-to-back vs. back-to-front trajectory with a
In-out effect 21
minimal realization using only starting and ending consonants (e.g., B _ _ K vs. K _ _ B).
This was done to a) validate the present stimulus set-up (using word fragments featuring
underscores) and b) to gain an in-out effect for comparison reasons with the later experiments.
Note that Topolinski and Boecker (2016a, Experiment 3) already used in-out stimulus
material that featured only starting and ending consonants, but they actually used letter pairs
(i.e., e.g., BK vs. KB).
Method
Participants. N = 100 (65 female, 35 male; Mage = 23, SDage = 5) German-speaking
participants were recruited via a local participant pool and were compensated with sweets for
their participation in this task.
Materials. The two-letter fragments consisted of a starting consonant (front vs. back)
and an ending consonant (front vs. back). Starting and ending consonants were separated by
differing numbers of underscores (4, 5, 6, or 7 underscores) respectively. Consonants of two
different articulation spots (in the very front and the very back) on the sagittal plane of the
mouth were chosen (IPA, 1999). As front consonants, the labial consonants B, M, and P, and
as back consonants, the velar and uvular consonants G, K, and R were selected. In German
phonation (the language under investigation in this line of experiments), the consonant R as
an ending letter is often pronounced as [ɐ], for instance in words ending in er, which is a
vowel instead of an R-sound. To ensure pronunciation as R-sound, an additional placeholder
was added after the respective last letter, resulting in stimuli in the form of C[onsonant] _ _ _
_ _ _ C[onsonant] _. The procedure resulted in stimulus pools with letter stimuli starting with
a front consonant and ending with a back consonant (inward fragments; e.g., B _ _ _ _ R _, M
_ _ _ _ _ _ K _) and letter stimuli starting with a back consonant and ending with a front
consonant (outward fragments; e.g., R _ _ _ _ B _, K _ _ _ _ _ _ M _). All possible
combinations of front consonants and back consonants, separated by 4, 5, 6, or 7 underscores,
were realized resulting in N = 72 stimuli in total.
In-out effect 22
Procedure. All six experiments of this line of experiments were PC-directed and
presented each target stimulus for 1,000 ms. For each participant, 24 inward and outward
fragments, respectively, were randomly drawn from the stimulus pool and sampled anew for
each participant, resulting in 48 trials in total. Participants were instructed to read the letter
stimuli silently in all experiments and to spontaneously rate their liking for the word
fragments on a scale from 0 (I do not like it at all) to 10 (I like it very much). Furthermore,
they were told that this task was investigating basic reading processes and that they should not
try to complete the word fragments (e.g., completing B _ _ K to BOOK) but should only rate
their liking of the respective stimuli. After the ratings, participants provided demographic data
and were dismissed.
Results and discussion
Again, mistyped responses or numbers that exceeded the scale were discarded (6 out
of 4,796 trials; 0.13 %). The dependent measure of interest were the ratings of liking for
inward and outward letter stimuli. Since the number of inserted underscores was only varied
to ensure a greater variety of stimuli and no effect of length of stimuli was of interest, we
collapsed over number of underscores.
Inward fragments (M = 5.33, SE = 0.10) received higher ratings of liking than outward
fragments (M = 5.10, SE = 0.11), t(99) = 4.50, p = .001, dz = 0.45, 95% CI [0.24, 0.65]. A
classical item-based analysis (Clark, 1973) supported these results, additionally taking into
account the impact of number of underscores, and found a main effect of articulation
direction, FI(1, 72) = 7.06, p = .010, ηp² = .09, 95% CI [0.01, 0.23], a main effect of number of
underscores, FI(3, 72) = 2.89, p = .042, ηp² = .11, 95% CI [0.00, 0.22], and no interaction
between the two factors.
This effect established the present paradigm using word fragments that feature
underscores, as we did indeed find an in-out effect when realizing the whole front-to-back vs.
back-to-front trajectory. The next experiment used this paradigm to orthogonally gauge the
In-out effect 23
respective possible contributions of the identity of only the starting and only the ending
consonant.
Experiment 6: In-Out-Like Effects with Only One Letter
Here we tested the possible causal contributions to the in-out effect of only the starting
and only the ending consonant by presenting word fragments that consisted of only a starting
consonant (front vs. back) or an ending consonant (front vs. back). Thus, we investigated
whether the mere activation of a front consonant at the beginning of a word fragment or a
back consonant at the ending of a word fragment are sufficient to evoke in-out like
preferences. This setup also allows to compare the results of 1-consonant fragments to those
of the 2-consonant fragments used in Experiment 5, since the average of fragments that start
with a front consonant and fragments that end with a back consonant would be concordant
with inward fragments (regarding position in the word and articulation spot, in-out
concordant) and the average of fragments that start with a back consonant and fragments that
end with a front consonant would be concordant with outward fragments (in-out discordant).
If the average of these in-out concordant fragments would be higher than the average of the
in-out discordant fragments, we would have shown that one can evoke in-out like preferences
without actual in-out stimuli. In turn, this would imply that position specific preferences are
driving the in-out effect rather than inward wandering articulation patterns.
Method
Participants. N = 106 (71 female, 32 male, 3 diverse; Mage = 23, SDage = 4) German-
speaking participants participated in this task and were compensated with sweets.
Materials. Stimuli for the one-letter fragments consisted of a starting consonant (front
vs. back) or an ending consonant (front vs. back), respectively, preceded or followed by 6, 7,
8, or 9 underscores. The same consonants for front and back articulation spots as in
Experiment 5 were used. Again, an additional placeholder was added after the respective last
consonant, for the same reasoning as described in Experiment 5, resulting in stimulus pools
In-out effect 24
with stimuli in the form of C _ _ _ _ _ _ (starting either with a front or a back consonant; e.g.,
M _ _ _ _ _ _ vs. G _ _ _ _ _ _) and _ _ _ _ _ _ C _ (ending either with a front or a back
consonant; e.g., _ _ _ _ _ _ M _ vs. _ _ _ _ _ _ G _), resulting in N = 48 stimuli in total.
Procedure. All stimuli were presented in randomized order, sampled anew for each
participant. Using the same instructions as in Experiment 5, participants rated their liking of
the word fragments on a scale from 0 (I do not like it at all) to 10 (I like it very much). After
completing the task, participants provided demographic data and were dismissed.
Results
Again, mistyped responses or numbers that exceeded that scale were discarded (3 out of
5,034 trials; 0.01 %). As done before, we collapsed over number of underscores and
calculated means for the respective conditions. A 2 (Position in the word: starting, ending) X
2 (Articulation spot: front, back) repeated measures ANOVA was conducted and revealed a
large main effect of position in the word, F(1, 104) = 103.18, p < .001, ηp² = .50, 95% CI
[0.36, 0.60], in the way that word fragments that featured a starting consonant were preferred
over word fragments that featured an ending consonant (statistics can be found in Table 5).
This effect is conceptually irrelevant (see discussion). Also, a main effect of articulation spot
emerged, F(1, 104) = 12.01, p = .001, ηp² = .10, 95% CI [0.02, 0.22]. Irrespective of position
in the word fragment, front consonants (M = 4.94, SE = 0.14) were preferred over back
consonants (M = 4.65, SE = 0.14), t(104) = 3.47, p = .001, dz = 0.34, 95% CI [0.14, 0.53]. The
interaction between position in the word and articulation spot was weak and not significant,
F(1, 104) = 2.24, p = .137, ηp² = .02, 95% CI [0.00, 0.10].
Table 5
Conditional means (and standard errors) for preference ratings as a function of articulation
spot (front, back) and position in the word (starting, ending) of 1-consonant fragments in
Experiment 6, 7, and 8. Ratings were reported on a 0 to 10 scale.
In-out effect 25
Experiment
Front consonant
Starting position
Front consonant
Ending position
Back consonant
Starting position
Back consonant
Ending position
Experiment 6
6.00 (0.18)
3.88 (0.17)
5.62 (0.18)
3.68 (0.17)
Experiment 7
5.11 (0.09)
4.92 (0.09)
4.62 (0.09)
4.67 (0.08)
Experiment 8
4.84 (0.14)
4.76 (0.15)
4.35 (0.13)
4.55 (0.14)
An item-based analysis found a main effect of position in the word, FI(1, 8) = 1683.87,
p < .001, ηp² = 1.00, 95% CI [0.98, 1.00], and a main effect of articulation spot, FI(1, 8) =
12.18, p = .008, ηp² = .60, 95% CI [0.07, 0.78], and an interaction between the two factors,
FI(1, 8) = 7.59, p = .025, ηp² = .49, 95% CI [0.00, 0.72], but no effect of number of
underscores (FI(1, 8) = 0.75).
Discussion
We find a general higher preference for front than for back consonants, irrespective of
position in a word, a pattern that is not informative to the in-out effect. Rather, an interaction
between articulation spot and position in word would be informative. While the subject-based
analysis yielded such an interaction as non-significant, the item-based analysis yielded it
significant. We argue that the weakness of this relevant interaction can be explained by the
very strong main effect of the conceptually irrelevant factor of position in the word. This
conceptually irrelevant effect that participants generally liked stimuli with consonants in
starting than in ending positions surely is due to the strategy that participants tried to retrieve a
matching meaningful word to inform their preference judgment. Such a strategy would of
course run more successfully when a starting letter is given than when an ending letter is
given (see the classical logic in Tversky & Kahneman, 1974). In the next experiment we tried
to minimize such a possible word retrieval strategy to reduce the conceptually irrelevant
impact of starting letter vs. ending letter given that might cloud the crucial interaction.
In-out effect 26
Experiment 7: In-Out-Like Effects with Only One Letter Revisited
A preregistered further experiment was conducted that should minimize word retrieval
strategies and thus reduce the impact of the conceptually irrelevant factor of whether a starting
or an ending letter was given. A placeholder was added at the very beginning of every word
fragment. To illustrate this to the reader, the stimulus _ B _ _ _ allows a less likely successful
search for an implied real word than the stimulus B _ _ _ _. It must be emphasized that due to
this set-up what we call “starting” consonants are not really the initial starting letter of a target
word anymore, but rather consonants early in the word. However, for convenience we will
still call these starting consonants or consonants in the starting position.
Method
Participants. N = 301 (201 female, 95 male, 5 diverse; Mage = 23, SDage = 4) German-
speaking participants were approached on campus and were compensated with sweets for
their participation in this study.
Materials and procedure. The 1-consonant fragments of Experiment 6 were used in
this experiment. This time, a placeholder was added to the beginning of every letter stimulus,
resulting in stimuli in the form of _ B _ _ _ _ _ for instance. Again, we presented all stimuli of
the respective stimulus pools in randomized order, sampled anew for each participant,
resulting in 48 trials. As before, participants rated their liking of the word fragments on a scale
from 0 (I do not like it at all) to 10 (I like it very much). After they finished the task,
participants provided demographic data and were dismissed.
Results
Again, mistyped responses or numbers that exceeded that scale were discarded (20 out
of 14,484 trials; 0.14 %). As done before, we collapsed over number of underscores and
calculated means for the respective conditions. A 2 (Position in the word: starting, ending) X
2 (Articulation spot: front, back) repeated measures ANOVA revealed a main effect of
articulation spot, F(1, 300) = 39.47, p < .001, ηp² = .12, 95% CI [0.06, 0.19], as front
In-out effect 27
consonants (M = 5.02, SE = 0.08) were preferred over back consonants (M = 4.65, SE = 0.07),
t(300) = 6.28, p < .001, dz = 0.36, 95% CI [0.25, 0.48]. This time, no main effect of position in
the word occurred, F(1, 300) = 1.14, indicating that the new set-up minimized word retrieval.
Crucially, an interaction between position in the word and articulation spot was found,
F(1, 300) = 16.74, p < .001, ηp² = .05, 95% CI [0.01, 0.11]. In starting positions, front
consonants were preferred over back consonants (statistics can be found in Table 5), t(300) =
7.38, p < .001, dz = 0.43, 95% CI [0.31, 0.54]. In ending positions, front consonants were also
preferred over ending back consonants, t(300) = 3.78, p < .001, dz = 0.22, 95% CI [0.10,
0.33], however, with an effect of only half the size than in starting positions.
The interaction that the general preference for front consonants was stronger for starting
than ending positions perfectly matches a pattern resembling the in-out effect. When we
aggregate fragments compatible with an in-out pattern (fragments starting with front
consonants and fragments ending with back consonants), these received higher liking ratings
(M = 4.89, SE = 0.07) than fragments incompatible with an in-out pattern (fragments starting
with back consonants and fragments ending with front consonants; M = 4.77, SE = 0.07),
t(300) = 4.09, p < .001, dz = 0.24, 95% CI [0.12, 0.35].
An item-based analysis confirmed these results, revealing a main effect of articulation
spot, FI(1, 11) = 28.81, p < .001, ηp² = .72, 95% CI [0.29, 0.84], and additionally a main effect
of position in the word, FI(1, 11) = 7.88, p = .017, ηp² = 0.42, 95% CI [0.01, 0.66], and an
interaction between the two factors, FI(1, 11) = 7.23, p = .021, ηp² = .40, 95% CI [0.01, 0.65].
Again, in-out concordant fragments (M = 4.89, SE = 0.07) descriptively received higher
ratings of liking than in-out discordant fragments (M = 4.77, SE = 0.11), tI(22) = 0.92, p =
.365, 95% CI [-0.22, 0.60].
Discussion
Minimizing word-retrieval strategies in the methodological set-up reduced the main
effect of position in a word and allowed the detection of an interaction between position in a
In-out effect 28
word and articulation spot: Front consonants were generally preferred over back consonants,
but this preference was stronger for starting than ending positions. This pattern mirrored an
in-out-like effect, such as that in-out concordant fragments (fragments starting with front
consonants and fragments ending with back consonants) were preferred over in-out discordant
fragments (fragments starting with back consonants and fragments ending with front
consonants). This means that in-out like preferences can be elicited by presenting only starting
(front) or ending (back) consonants.
Experiment 8: In-Out-Like Effects with One and Two Letters Compared
To substantiate the present evidential value, both 1-consonant and 2-consonant
fragments were tested in a preregistered within-subject design.
Method
Participants. N = 150 (104 female, 35 male; Mage = 23, SDage = 4; demographic data
was only collected for N = 139 participants) German-speaking participants were approached
on campus and participated in the task for a compensation of sweets.
Materials and procedure. The 1-consonant fragments of Experiment 7 and the 2-
consonant fragments of Experiment 5 were used in this experiment and were presented in
separate blocks, with full randomization within a block and a counter-balancing of the order
of the blocks, resulting in two blocks with 48 trials, respectively. The same instructions as in
the previous experiments were being used and participants rated their liking of the word
fragments on a scale from 0 (I do not like it at all) to 10 (I like it very much). After they
finished the task, participants provided demographic data and were dismissed.
Results
Mistyped responses or numbers that exceeded that scale were discarded (31 out of
14,324 trials; 0.22 %). Again, we collapsed over number of underscores and calculated means
for the respective conditions. Because the two different stimulus types differed in their
conceptual design, with 2-consonant fragments featuring only inward vs. outward fragments,
In-out effect 29
but 1-consonant fragments featuring a 2 (Position) X 2 (Articulation spot) design, we tested
the effects separately for these both stimulus types.
2-Consonant fragments. Inward fragments (M = 4.87, SE = 0.12) received higher
ratings of liking than outward fragments (M = 4.71, SE = 0.12), t(149) = 3.22, p = .002, dz =
0.26, 95% CI [0.10, 0.43], also in the item-based analysis, tI(70) = 2.14, p = .036, d = 0.25,
95% CI [0.17, 0.49]. This replicates Experiment 6.
1-Consonant fragments. A 2 (Position in the word: starting, ending) X 2 (Articulation
spot: front, back) repeated measures ANOVA revealed a main effect of articulation spot, F(1,
149) = 23.52, p < .001, ηp² = .14, 95% CI [0.05, 0.24], with front consonants being again
preferred over back consonants, independently of their position. No main effect of position in
the word occurred, F(1,149) = 0.53.
Again, an interaction between articulation spot and position in the word occurred, F(1,
149) = 11.25, p = .001, ηp² = .07, 95% CI [0.01, 0.16]. In starting positions, front consonants
(statistics can be found in Table 5) were preferred over back consonants, t(149) = 5.39, p <
.001, dz = 0.44, 95% CI [0.27, 0.61]. Again, this general preference of front consonants was
only half the size for ending positions, with ending front consonants being preferred over
ending back consonants, t(149) = 2.68, p = .008, dz = 0.22, 95% CI [0.06, 0.38], to a lesser but
still significant degree. This pattern again mirrored the in-out effect pattern: Fragments
compatible with an in-out pattern received higher liking ratings (M = 4.70, SE = 0.13) than
fragments incompatible with an in-out pattern (M = 4.55, SE = 0.13), t(149) = 3.36, p = .001,
dz = 0.27, 95% CI [0.11, 0.44], thereby replicating the results of Experiment 7.
An item-based analysis confirmed these results, revealing a main effect of articulation
spot, FI(1, 8) = 10.84, p = .011, ηp² = .58, 95% CI [0.05, 0.77], and a marginal interaction
between articulation spot and position in the word, FI(1, 8) = 3.88, p = .084, ηp² = .33, 95% CI
[0.00, 0.63], and no effect of position in the word (FI(1, 8) = 0.74) or amount of underscores
(FI(1, 8) = 0.22). Fragments compatible with an in-out pattern (M = 4.69, SE = 0.04) received
In-out effect 30
higher ratings of liking than fragments incompatible with an in-out pattern (M = 4.54, SE =
0.06), tI(22) = 2.20, p = .039, 𝑑 = 0.46, 95% CI [0.02, 0.88].
Discussion
Directly comparing the effect sizes of real in-out stimuli (the 2-consonant fragments)
and stimuli whose starting and ending letters are compatible with an in-out pattern but do not
actually feature a whole inward-outward trajectory (the 1-consonant fragments) we found both
an in-out effect for 2-consonant fragments (dz = 0.26) and an in-out-like effect for 1-consonant
fragments (dz = 0.27), with these effect sizes being quite similar to each other. These findings
support the assumption that in-out like preferences can be produced without actual inward
wandering articulation dynamics, which would require the activation of a starting and ending
point of the oral trajectory, but through the mere activation of certain single articulation spots
on certain positions of a word (fragment).
Experiment 9: Fully Crossing Articulation Spot and Position in a Word
A further experiment was designed in order to fully cross both relevant factors of
articulation spot and position within a word. This time, we created 2-consonant fragments in
which position in the word and articulation spot were manipulated orthogonally. So far, our
evidence suggests that inward stimuli are preferred over outward stimuli because front
consonants are preferred over back consonants and this preference is enhanced in starting
positions of stimuli. As a last step, we investigated whether the preference for front
consonants can also be extended to word stimuli that feature more than one consonant,
wherefore we extended the design of Experiment 5 by adding 2-consonant fragments that
featured front consonants (e.g., _ M _ _ _ _ B _) or back consonants (e.g., _ G _ _ _ _ K _) in
starting and ending positions.
Method
In-out effect 31
Participants. N = 207 (67 female, 28 male; Mage = 23, SDage = 4; due to a programming
error, demographic data was only collected for N = 95 participants) German-speaking
participants participated in the experiment and were compensated with sweets.
Materials and Procedure. The 2-consonant fragments from Experiment 8 that were
concordant with inward and outward stimuli, respectively, were used. Additionally, in order to
orthogonalize the experimental design, fragments were created that featured only front
consonants (B, M, P) or back consonants (G, K, R), which resulted in N = 30 stimuli for each
condition. As before, all stimuli started and ended with a placeholder and no consonant
reoccurred within one stimulus. Thus, our stimulus pool featured stimuli that started with a
front consonant and ended with a back consonant (inward fragments; e.g., _ B _ _ _ _ K _),
started and ended with a front consonant (front fragments; e.g., _ B _ _ _ _ M _), started with
a back and ended with a front consonant (outward fragments; e.g.; _ G _ _ _ _ P _), and
started and ended with a back consonant (back fragments; e.g., _ K _ _ _ _ G _). N = 24
stimuli of each condition were randomly drawn and presented in randomized order, resulting
in a total of 96 trials. As done before, participants rated their liking of the word fragments on a
scale from 0 (I do not like it at all) to 10 (I like it very much). After they finished the task,
participants provided demographic data and were dismissed.
Results
Mistyped responses or numbers that exceeded that scale were discarded (21 out of
19,828 trials; 0.01 %) and we collapsed over number of underscores and calculated means for
the respective conditions. A 2 (Starting with front vs. back consonant) X 2 (Ending with front
vs. back consonant) repeated measures ANOVA revealed a main effect of starting, F(1, 206)
= 32.96, p < .001, ηp² = .14, 95% CI [0.06, 0.23], with front consonants being preferred over
back consonants in starting positions (statistics can be found in Table 6). Additionally, a main
effect of ending occurred, F(1, 206) = 13.05, p < .001, ηp² = .06, 95% CI [0.01, 0.13], as front
consonants were also preferred over back consonants in ending positions. Crucially, the main
In-out effect 32
effect for starting positions was larger than the main effect for ending positions, t(206) = 2.29,
p = .023, dz = 0.16, 95% CI [0.02, 0.30], that is, the preference for front over back consonants
was double as large (ηp² = .14) than the front preference in ending positions (ηp² = .06).
Table 6
Conditional means (and standard errors) for preference ratings as a function of starting
position (front consonant, back consonant) and ending position (front consonant, back
consonant) of 2-consonant fragments in Experiment 9. Ratings were reported on a 0 to 10 scale.
Starting front
Ending front
Starting front
Ending back
Ending back
Starting front
Ending back
Ending back
4.56 (0.11)
4.54 (0.11)
4.44 (0.10)
4.20 (0.10)
Additionally, we found a conceptually irrelevant interaction, F(1, 206) = 18.15, p <
.001, ηp² = .08, 95% CI [0.02, 0.16], in the way that descriptively the front-over-back
preference for ending positions was stronger if the stimulus started with a front consonant.
This interaction was not replicated in the following experiment.
Discussion
We again find a general preference for front over back consonants, for both starting
and ending positions; but this preference was larger for starting than for ending positions. This
pattern can be seen as a viable explanation of the in-out effect: Inward words, that is, words
that start with front and end with back consonants, perfectly fall into this pattern; outward
words, that is, words that start with back consonants and end with front consonants, do not.
Experiment 10: Joint examination of eating-related and word-morphologic
manipulations
In-out effect 33
A final experiment was conducted to jointly manipulate eating-related states (Part I)
and word-morphology (Part II). To do so, we again employed the video disgust induction
(Experiments 1 and 4) and employed the 2-consonant fragments from Experiment 9. To
increase the likelihood that eating-related states would have an influence, we changed the
framing and dependent measure to a food context (cf., Rossi et al., 2017; Topolinski &
Boecker, 2016b) by instructing participants that the stimuli they would receive would be
names for dishes, and they are to rate the palatability of these dishes.
Method
Participants. N = 203 (75 female, 126 male, 1 other; Mage = 40, SDage = 14;
demographic data was not recorded for one participant) German-speaking participants were
recruited via the online platform Clickworkers and received €1 as compensation.
Materials and Procedure. As described, the video disgust induction of Experiment 1
and 4 was used. However, to increase experimental efficacy, we decided to present only two
(disgusting vs. neutral) videos. After participants had seen a video, they evaluated 48 word
fragments. Then, this procedure was repeated, using the second video and different word
fragments. The stimulus pool of Experiment 9 was used. Again, n = 24 stimuli of each
condition were randomly drawn and presented in randomized order, resulting in a total of 96
trials.
The stimuli were labelled as names of dishes, and the dependent variable was “How
palatable is this dish? from 0 (Not at all palatable) to 10 (Very palatable). After participants
had finished the task, we assessed how disgusted they were by the videos on a scale from 0
(Not at all disgusted) to 10 (Very disgusted) as well as their current oral intentions on a five-
point scale ranging from 1 (swallowing) to 5 (spitting) as done in Experiment 1. Afterwards,
participants provided demographic data and were dismissed.
Results
In-out effect 34
The check as well as the manipulation validation were significant. Participants in the
disgust condition felt more disgusted by the videos (M = 7.92, SD = 3.08) than participants in
the neutral condition (M = 0.43, SD = 1.18), t(200) = 22.58, p < .001, d = 3.18, 95% CI [2.76,
3.59] and reported higher oral intentions of spitting in the disgust condition (M = 3.97, SD =
0.89) compared to participants in the neutral condition (M = 2.26, SD = 0.90), t(200) = 13.65,
p < .001, d = 1.92, 95% CI [1.59, 2.25].
Mean palatability ratings were entered into a 2 (Starting with front vs. back consonant;
within-subjects) X 2 (Ending with front vs. back consonant; within-subjects) X 2 (Disgust vs.
neutral movies; between-subjects) ANOVA (statistics can be found in Table 7). As in
Experiment 9, we observed a main effect of starting position, F(1, 201) = 24.98, p < .001, ηp²
= .11, 95% CI [0.04, 0.19], with front consonants being preferred over back consonants in
starting positions. Additionally, a main effect of ending position occurred, F(1, 201) = 11.81,
p < .001, ηp² = .06, 95% CI [0.01, 0.13], with front consonants being also preferred over back
consonants in ending positions. There was no interaction between starting position and ending
position, F(1, 201) = 0.39, p = .534. Again, the main effect of front preference was, at least
descriptively, stronger for starting (ηp² = .11) than for ending position (ηp² = .06), t(202) =
1.73, p = .085, dz = 0.12, 95% CI [-0.02, 0.26].
Table 7
Conditional means (and standard errors) for preference ratings as a function of starting
position (front consonant, back consonant) and ending position (front consonant, back
consonant) of 2-consonant fragments in Experiment 10 for stimuli that were labelled as dishes
and presented after neutral versus disgusting videos (between-participants). Ratings were
reported on a 0 to 10 scale.
Emotion
condition
Starting front
Ending front
Starting front
Ending back
Ending back
Starting front
Ending back
Ending back
In-out effect 35
Crucially, none of these effects interacted with disgust, all F(1, 201) < 1, indicating that
disgust did not moderate any of the front preference effects. Instead, we observe a main effect
of disgust, F(1, 201) = 30.62, p < .001, ηp² = .13, 95% CI [0.06, 0.22], indicating that
participants in the disgust condition rated all word fragments as less palatable than
participants in the neutral condition, which finding might be seen as an additional
confirmation that the disgust manipulation succeeded in reducing participants’ eating
motivation.
Discussion
Connecting the two lines of research in this paper, regarding eating-related internal
states (Part I) and word-morphologic effects (Part II), we again found the word-morphologic
pattern of an enhanced front-over-back consonants preference for starting over ending
positions. Despite a positive manipulation check and a framing of food-related ratings, the
disgust manipulation did not at all modulate the articulation-based effect.
General Discussion
In two lines of experiments, we explored the driving mechanisms of the in-out effect
(Topolinski et al., 2014). In the first line of experiments, we found no evidence that the in-out
effect is modulated by eating-related internal states. Although we went to great lengths
methodologically and logistically (e.g., food deprivation) and used established methods with
rigorous manipulation checks and large sample sizes, no interactions occurred, neither in an
assimilative fashion (as in Godinho et al., 2019; Topolinski et al., 2017; who manipulated
subject-external denoted meaning) nor in a contrastive fashion. Thus, we could not find
supporting evidence for an eating-related explanation. As already said in the interim
Neutral
5.09 (0.15)
5.00 (0.15)
4.96 (0.15)
4.83 (0.15)
Disgust
3.86 (0.17)
3.81 (0.16)
3.73 (0.16)
3.66 (0.16)
In-out effect 36
conclusion, this null evidence does not ultimately speak against an eating-related explanation,
but it adds to the literature the fact of lacking support despite rigorous tests with high
statistical power.
In the second line of experiments, we found a word-morphological effect that we
introduce as a novel possible explanation of the in-out effect. Consonants articulated in the
front of the mouth were generally preferred over consonants articulated in the back of the
mouth, and this preference was enhanced in starting positions of a word. Since “classic”
inward words start with consonants that are articulated in the front of the mouth while
outward words do not, it is possible that the in-out effect relies on this combination of the
general preference for front over back consonants and a position primacy effect. In the
following, we will first discuss the possible psychological background of this word-
morphological effect and derive novel predictions from the within-word primacy effect that
might stimulate future research in areas of language-embodiment and psycholinguistics. Then,
we explain why the present evidence speaks against the previously proposed fluency-
explanation of the in-out effect.
Preference for front consonants and within-word primacy
The word-morphological evidence from Part II suggests two necessary and sufficient
conditions for the in-out effect, two causal antecedents that are actually themselves not related
to each other but jointly elicit the in-out effect as a product of their coincidence.
Front consonant preference
First, consonants that are produced in the front of the mouth are generally preferred
over those produced in the back of the mouth. The ultimate cause of this front-consonant
preference cannot be explored in this paper but might have its roots in early language
acquisition. All infants acquire their mother tongue in the same chronological order (Höhle,
2010). Beginning in the 20th week, infants start to articulate distinct phonemes that form into
babbling of sequences that consist of consonants and vowels. Ingram (1974) described the
In-out effect 37
tendency that in baby talk, the first consonant is located in a more anterior (front) place of
articulation then the second, which is referred to as fronting. Consonants that are articulated in
the front of the mouth (e.g., labial consonants such as B, M, and P) are among the first
consonants infants articulate (Oller, Wieman, Doyle, & Ross, 1975), whereas A is the first
vowel being articulated (Zimmer, 1988). A preference of labial (articulated in the very front
of the mouth) over coronal consonants (articulated with the flexible part of the tongue) can
still be found in adult speech, which underlines the fundamental importance of this pattern
within speech (MacNeilage, Davis, Kinney, & Matyear, 2000). For this, basic biomechanical
properties of sound production might play a causal role, such as motor effort (Kirchner, 2013)
in the sense that front consonants are motorically easier to produce than back consonants.
Within-word primacy and implications for future research
The second causal ingredient of the in-out effect is completely independent of that
front-consonant preference. Within-word primacy is the observation that the initial letter or
the beginning of a word matters more. A closer examination of the existing literature shows
that within-word primacy is also evident in other domains, although this earlier research was
not explicitly targeted at within-word primacy. For instance, the first letter of a word is the
most important determinant in word identification during reading (Gibson & Levin, 1975;
Posnansky and Rayner, I977; Rayner & Hagelberg, 1975) and is prioritized in lexical access
(Lima & Inhoff, 1985). Also, the name letter effect, that is, people’s preference for letters
contained in their own name, is most pronounced for name initials (Nuttin, 1985; Hodson &
Olson, 2005). To name another example, it is the voicedness of the onset of a name, that is, of
the initial letter, that determines gender intuitions about names (Slepian & Galinsky, 2016).
On the other side, it has been shown that when employing more than one inward-outward
movement in a word, a recency effect of the last articulation direction occurs (Topolinski &
Bakhtiari, 2016).
In-out effect 38
Going beyond the specific significance as a possible driving mechanism of the in-out
effect, the present word-morphological pattern opens the case that any (superficial)
psycholinguistic property of a word has a stronger psychological impact when it occurs in the
beginning of a word. This can be tested for any kind of effects, embodied effects such as
vowels activating the smiling muscle (Rummer, Schweppe, Schlegelmilch, & Grice, 2014), or
other sound-symbolic effects. In the latter case, Klink and Wu (2014) have already shown that
sound-symbolism effects are stronger in the first than in the second syllable of a word.
The arguably most interesting case in this vein is pronounceability (Song & Schwarz,
2009). Easy-to-pronounce names elicit positive attitudes towards the name bearer (e.g., Alter
& Oppenheimer, 2008; Silva, Chrobot, Newman, Schwarz, & Topolinski, 2017; Zürn &
Topolinski, 2017). The present account would predict that this fluency would have greater
impact when occurring in the beginning of a word. That is, an easy-difficult sequence of
syllables in a word should be preferred over a difficult-easy sequence, although the overall
fluency of the whole word is equal. This, however, runs counter the notion that individuals
take pleasure in experiencing an initial cognitive difficulty that is instantly followed by mental
ease (e.g., Topolinski & Reber, 2010), such as in sense making in surprise (Maguire, Maguire,
& Keane, 2011) or cognitively mastering the initial incongruence when reading a joke
(Forabosco, 1992). Future research might test these sequential effects of fluency.
Implications for a frequentist-fluency explanation of the in-out effect
Besides the eating-related embodied explanation of the in-out effect featured in most of
the published literature, there are two papers that explore a processing fluency account (e.g.,
Alter & Oppenheimer, 2008; Reber, Schwarz, & Winkielman, 2004; Unkelbach, 2007) of the
in-out effect. Bakhtiari et al. (2016) showed that inward letter strings are rated as being easier
to pronounce than outward letter strings, and that this pronunciation advantage partially (but
not fully) mediates the impact of articulation direction on preference. They argue that this
fluency advantage stems from the ecological fact that inward trajectories are more common in
In-out effect 39
natural language than outward trajectories, and higher ecological frequency increases ease of
processing/fluency (Balota & Chumbley, 1985; Ellis, 2002). To support this argument, they
provide a corpus analysis with a corpus of German words, which shows that the front
consonants under investigation are more frequent at the starting (23.30%) than at the ending
position of a word (5.50%), and back consonants are more frequent at the ending (20.30%)
than at the starting position of a word (18.70%; Bakhtiari et al., 2016, p. 112). Further
supporting such a frequentist fluency account, Körner, Bakhtiari, and Topolinski (2019)
showed that a massive training of outward (vs. inward) articulation trajectories could reverse
(vs. strengthen) the in-out effect.
The present evidence provides two effects that speak against such a frequentist
explanation. First, we find a general preference for front over back consonants. A frequentist
account would explain this with the seeming fact that front consonants are more frequent in
language than back consonants. This, however, is not the case for the consonants used in our
experiments, with the front consonants B, M, and P having an aggregated frequency of 5.21%
in the German language, and the back consonants G, K, R an aggregated frequency of 11.22%
(Beutelspacher, 2005, p. 10), thus being twice as frequent.
Second, the present Experiments 79, being the first to assess preference for certain
consonants in starting and ending positions separately, found this front-over-back consonant
preference for both starting and ending positions (although attenuated for ending positions). A
frequentist approach would derive that this must be due to the circumstance that front
consonants are more common than back consonants at both the starting and ending positions
of natural words. However, the corpus analysis provided by Bakhtiari et al. (2016) documents
that at the starting position of natural German words, front consonants are indeed more
frequent (23.30%) than back consonants (18.70%), but at the ending position, back
consonants occur substantially more often (20.30%) than front consonants (5.50%; Bakhtiari
et al., 2016, p. 112). Thus, a frequentist explanation would expect a greater preference for
In-out effect 40
back consonants at the end of words, while we find the opposite effect. In sum, these novel
findings speak against a frequentist fluency explanation, but more research is needed to
reconcile these different approaches.
Finally, regarding the locus of the in-out effect, our present findings could also explain
why oral interference did not attenuate the in-out effect in previous research. Under oral
motor-interference (e.g., when chewing gum or whispering a task-irrelevant word), the oral
muscles are occupied with motor noise and thus cannot subvocally simulate the articulation of
inward and outward words (see Topolinski, 2012; but also see Westerman, Klin, & Lanska,
2015). In such a state, fluency variations in articulation are less likely to be experienced.
Lindau and Topolinski (2018) employed such oral motor-interference tasks and found no
impact on the in-out effect. This suggests that the in-out effect does not depend on oral muscle
activities but rather constitutes a lifelong-learned preference for front consonants.
Conclusion
The present experiments employed rigorous methods and highly powered designs
resulting in successfully manipulated eating-related internal states of participants but still
found no interaction with the in-out effect. Thus, we found no support for an eating-related
explanation of the in-out effect. Furthermore, an alternative word-morphologic explanation is
tested and supported, stating that the in-out effect might be partially produced by a general
preference for front over back consonants that is enhanced for starting compared to ending
positions in a word. The present evidence also directly speaks against a fluency or frequentist
explanation of the in-out effect.
In-out effect 41
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In-out effect 49
APPENDIX
Verbal Stimulus Pools
2-consonant stimuli used in Experiments 5, 8, and 9
Inward fragments:
B _ _ _ _ G _, P _ _ _ _ G _, M _ _ _ _ G _, B _ _ _ _ _ G _, P _ _ _ _ _ G _, M _ _ _ _ _ G _,
B _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, P _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, M _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, B _ _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ G
_, M _ _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, B _ _ _ _ K _, P _ _ _ _ K _, M _ _ _ _ K _, B _ _ _ _ _ K _, P _ _ _ _
_ K _, M _ _ _ _ _ K _, B _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, P _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, M _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, B _ _ _ _ _ _ _
K _, P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, M _ _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, B _ _ _ _ R _, P _ _ _ _ R _, M _ _ _ _ R _, B _
_ _ _ _ R _, P _ _ _ _ _ R _, M _ _ _ _ _ R _, B _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, P _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, M _ _ _ _ _
_ R _, B _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, M _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _.
Outward fragments:
G _ _ _ _ B _, K _ _ _ _ B _, R _ _ _ _ B _, G _ _ _ _ _ B _, K _ _ _ _ _ B _, R _ _ _ _ _ B _,
G _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, K _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, R _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, G _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, K _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B
_, R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, G _ _ _ _ M _, K _ _ _ _ M _, R _ _ _ _ M _, G _ _ _ _ _ M _, K _ _ _
_ _ M _, R _ _ _ _ _ M _, G _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, K _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, R _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, G _ _ _ _ _
_ _ M _, K _ _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, G _ _ _ _ P _, K _ _ _ _ P _, R _ _ _ _ P _,
G _ _ _ _ _ P _, K _ _ _ _ _ P _, R _ _ _ _ _ P _, G _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, K _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, R _ _ _ _
_ _ P _, G _ _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, K _ _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ P _.
1-consonant stimuli used in Experiments 6, 7, and 8
Fragments starting with a front consonant (for Experiments 7 and 8, an additional
placeholder was added at the very beginning of each word fragment):
In-out effect 50
B _ _ _ _ _ _, P _ _ _ _ _ _, M _ _ _ _ _ _, B _ _ _ _ _ _ _, P _ _ _ _ _ _ _, M _ _ _ _ _ _ _, B
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, M _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, B _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, M
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
Fragments starting with a back consonant (for Experiments 7 and 8, an additional
placeholder was added at the very beginning of each word fragment):
G _ _ _ _ _ _, K _ _ _ _ _ _, R _ _ _ _ _ _, G _ _ _ _ _ _ _, K _ _ _ _ _ _ _, R _ _ _ _ _ _ _, G
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, K _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, G _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, K _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _, R
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
Fragments ending with a front consonant:
_ _ _ _ _ _ B _, _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ _ _ _ _ _
_ M _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, _ _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ M _.
Fragments ending with a back consonant:
_ _ _ _ _ _ G _, _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ _ _ _ _
_ _ R _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, _ _
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _.
2-consonant stimuli used in Experiment 9 and 10
Front fragments:
_ B _ _ _ _ P _, _ B _ _ _ _ M _, _ P _ _ _ _ M _, _ P _ _ _ _ B _, _ M _ _ _ _ P _, _ M _ _ _ _
B _, _ B _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ B _ _ _ _ _ M _, _ P _ _ _ _ _ M _, _ P _ _ _ _ _ B _, _ M _ _ _ _ _ P
_, _ M _ _ _ _ _ B _, _ B _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ B _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, _ P _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, _ P _ _ _ _
_ _ B _, _ M _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ M _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, _ B _ _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ B _ _ _ _ _ _ _ M _,
_ P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, _ P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, _ M _ _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ M _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, _ B _
In-out effect 51
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ B _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, _ P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ M _, _ P _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B _, _ M
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ P _, _ M _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ B _.
Back fragments:
_ G _ _ _ _ R _, _ G _ _ _ _ K _, _ R _ _ _ _ K _, _ R _ _ _ _ G _, _ K _ _ _ _ R _, _ K _ _ _ _
G _, _ G _ _ _ _ _ R _, _ G _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ R _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ R _ _ _ _ _ G _, _ K _ _ _ _ _ R
_, _ K _ _ _ _ _ G _, _ G _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, _ G _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ R _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ R _ _ _ _
_ _ G _, _ K _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, _ K _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, _ G _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _
, _ G _ _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, _ K _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, _ K
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, _ G _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, _ G _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ R _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ K _, _ R
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ G _, _ K _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ R _, _ K _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ G _.
... So far, the findings of the in-out effect have been demonstrated to be robust and replicable , though the underlying mechanisms remain unclear Maschmann et al., 2020;Pathak et al., 2021). The applicability of the in-out effect has also been demonstrated across different languages, such as English and German (Topolinski et al., 2014), Portuguese (Godinho & Garrido, 2016), French (Rossi et al., 2017), Ukrainian, and Turkish (Godinho & Garrido, 2016). ...
... The underlying mechanisms behind the articulatory in-out effect have been debated in recent years (Maschmann, Körner, Boecker, & Topolinski, 2020; and so far, several mutually non-exclusive accounts have been proposed for the effect Ingendahl & Vogel, 2022;Lindau & Topolinski, 2018b). ...
... The third explanation is the articulation location mechanism (Maschmann et al., 2020). This account suggests that consonants articulated in the front of the mouth (e.g., /p/) are generally preferred over those articulated in the back of the mouth (e.g., /k/) (Maschmann et al., 2020). ...
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As brands expand globally into linguistically diverse cultures, choosing effective brand names is becoming more important than ever. In brand naming, the in-out effect refers to the phenomenon where the articulation pattern of brand names (i.e., inward vs. outward movement of muscles when pronouncing the brand names) influences preferences. Here, we explore the generalizability, modulators, and mechanisms of the in-out effect among non-WEIRD consumers. Our findings reveal that 1) the use of inward (vs. outward) names increase consumer preferences regardless of product types 2) the consonant–vowel alignment modulates the effect and brand names that are completely inwardly aligned (e.g., BIKO, in which consonants and vowels both follow the outwards to inward pattern) are preferred over the brand names that are partially inwardly aligned (e.g., BOKI) 3) the fluency of the name appears to be the underlying mechanism. The results are discussed in terms of implications for global branding.
... Recently, however, an alternative interpretation of the in-out effect has been suggested that does not hinge on articulation movements at all. Specifically, Maschmann et al. (2020) suggested the in-out effect to result from a greater preference for consonants articulated at the front compared to back of the mouth combined with the assumption that this front preference is larger at the beginning compared to the end of words. Support for this hypothesis comes from evaluations of word fragments that consist of one letter at the beginning or end of the stimulus with all other letters replaced by underscores (e.g., M _ _ _ _ _ _ vs. G _ _ _ _ _ _). ...
... Moreover, when word fragments contained two letters, one at the beginning and one at the end, there was a front preference that occurred both at stimulus beginning and stimulus ending. Statistically speaking, there were main effects favoring front over back consonants at both stimulus locations but the effect size was larger at the beginning compared to the end of stimuli (Maschmann et al., 2020; for other research indicating that word beginnings are especially influential in sound symbolism, see Adelman et al., 2018;Klink & Wu, 2014). Thus, the combination of both, a general preference for front compared to back consonants with the observation that word beginnings determine meaning more strongly than word endings, leads to an alternative explanation for the in-out effect that does not rest on articulation location movements. ...
... The word fragment stimuli used by Maschmann et al. (2020), showing that the in-out effect can be explained by a weighted sum of consonant preferences, differ from the typically used pseudo-word stimuli. As pseudo-words consist of vowels and consonants, vowels introduce additional articulation locations, so that, even when consonants are articulated at a roughly constant location, the combination of vowels and consonants could imply articulation location movement. ...
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Words whose consonant articulation locations move inward (from the front to the back of the mouth) are preferred over words with the opposite consonant articulation location direction, a phenomenon termed the in–out effect. Recently, an alternative explanation for the in–out effect has been proposed based on position-weighted consonant preferences instead of articulation location movement preferences. However, this explanation has only been tested with word fragments. In two experiments, we tested these explanations using both, word fragment and pseudo-word stimuli. For word fragments, preferences could be explained by position-weighted consonant preferences, while, for pseudo-words, stimuli containing articulation location movement were evaluated more favourably than stimuli not containing articulation location movement. Thus, the in–out effect for word stimuli depends on movement of articulation locations. This finding demonstrates that a word’s sound symbolic meaning cannot always be explained by its individual letters but can depend on letter sequences.
... (iii) The in-out effect should interact with food-related physical states of the subject. For example, food deprivation should make food ingestion more appealing whereas disgust inductions should make food ingestion less appealing [10]. However, neither food deprivation nor disgust influence the in-out effect [10]. ...
... For example, food deprivation should make food ingestion more appealing whereas disgust inductions should make food ingestion less appealing [10]. However, neither food deprivation nor disgust influence the in-out effect [10]. ...
... Another recent theory is that people do not prefer inward dynamics per se, but only consonants produced at the front of the mouth (e.g., [m], [p], [b]) [10]. If this preference for front consonants has the strongest impact on judgments when a consonant is at the beginning of the articulation sequence it would create the epiphenomenon that an inward dynamic (e.g., MADIKO) appears to be more positive than an outward dynamic (e.g., KADIMO). ...
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People prefer inward over outward articulation dynamics, a phenomenon referred to as the articulatory in-out effect. It is empirically robust and generalizes across languages, settings, and stimuli. However, the theoretical explanation of the effect is still a matter of lively debate and in need of novel research directions. Free to read at: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1d-Fg4sIRvHkw7
... In support of this account, the in-out effect reverses for some products that trigger oral expectoration (e.g., bubble gum; Topolinski et al., 2017). However, the effect does not increase under food deprivation, speaking against this eating-related account (Maschmann et al., 2020). ...
... We generated brand names from the front consonant letters B/P/M, the middle consonant letters D/T/L, the rear consonant letters G/K/R, and the vowels A/E/I/O/U. The same letters have been used in previous research on the in-out effect with German-speaking samples Maschmann et al., 2020;Topolinski et al., 2014). We randomly generated names for each participant to avoid systematic confounds. ...
... This was not the case, not even when using the subscale core disgust that explicitly captures eating-related disgust sensitivity. Our findings fit to recent experiments conducted by Maschmann et al. (2020) showing that the in-out effect is also resistant against experimental disgust induction. While these findings substantiate that the inout effect is not explained by an association of outward movements and avoidance behaviors, they do not necessarily rule out the opposite, that is inward movements are associated with an approach tendency. ...
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Words with an inward-wandering consonant sequence (e.g., MADIKO) are preferred to words with an outward-wandering consonant sequence (e.g., KADIMO), commonly referred to as articulatory in-out effect. Despite its robustness in consumer behavior across languages and settings, there has been no research on interindividual differences in this effect so far. Based on current theories on the phenomenon, we expect that the in-out effect should be moderated by interindividual differences in disgust sensitivity and preference for intuition. In a preregistered, high-powered study (N = 298), we replicate the in-out effect in the domain of brand names. However, neither disgust sensitivity nor preference for intuition has a moderating influence. Our findings suggest that the in-out effect is likely to be observed across levels of these personality traits. We discuss further implications of these findings for the processes underlying the effect.
... Recently, researchers have also offered alternative explanations (e.g., fluency, pronounceability) behind the phenomenon (e.g., Bakhtiari, Körner & Topolinski, 2016). Similarly, Maschmann and colleagues have argued that other explanations are behind the in-out effect and people generally prefer front consonants to back consonants and the oral kinematics alone might not be the only mechanism governing the effect (Maschmann et al., 2020). ...
... For the analysis, we segregated bilabials (/b/, /m/, /p/), liquids (/l/, /r/) and nasals (/m/, /n/) as soft sounds, as these have often been associated with pleasant concepts (e.g. softness, child-like) (Kawahara, 2019;Pathak, Calvert, & Velasco, 2017;Maschmann et al., 2020;Sakamoto & Watanabe, 2018). ...
... vomiting) was originally proposed as the mechanism behind the in/out effect, recent evidence suggests alternative explanations (e.g. pronounceability, fluency, greater preference for first consonants) (Maschmann et al., 2020;Topolinski et al. 2014). For example, one alternative explanation is that in natural languages, words with sounds originating from the front of the F i n a l A u t h o r ' s V e r s i o n mouth (e.g., /m/) are more abundant than words with sounds originating from the back of the mouth. ...
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A number of studies have now examined the in/out effect, whereby “inwards” spoken words imitating an inwards articulatory motion (akin to the swallowing motion) are typically rated higher on dimensions of edibility, palatability, likeability, approach and willingness to pay. The reverse is true of so-called “outwards” words mimicking oral expulsive motion. This effect, though robust and replicable, fails to take into account other well-known sound symbolic associations, which have also been shown to affect the perceived meaning of words, especially in the taste dimension. If outwards (vs. inwards) words are perceived as less palatable and less likeable, the in/out theory would suggest they would lead to expectations of an unpleasant taste. However, taking our cue from the sound symbolism theory, we provide evidence to the contrary. Specifically, we show that phonemic sounds (soft or harsh) contained within these words can override the in/out effect. Across two studies, we found that words with an outwards (vs. inwards) pattern were in fact rated as sweet (vs. bitter) and round (vs. angular) based on the nature of the embedded phones. We also demonstrate that the results significantly differ when the number of phonetic sounds (soft vs. harsh) are varied within the same category of words. Together, our results demonstrate that sound symbolism overrides the in/out effect in sound-taste and sound-shape associations.
... not responsible for the effect (Maschmann, Körner, Boecker, & Topolinski, 2020). ...
... Lastly, our results match with a new theoretical account on the inout effect, namely that it is grounded in a preference for front over rear consonants which is stronger if the consonants are at the beginning of a word (Maschmann et al., 2020). This account suggests that the in-out effect is only a side phenomenon originated in consonant preferences: Inward words start with a front consonant and end with a rear consonant, but outward words start with a rear consonant and end with a front consonant. ...
... This account suggests that the in-out effect is only a side phenomenon originated in consonant preferences: Inward words start with a front consonant and end with a rear consonant, but outward words start with a rear consonant and end with a front consonant. Because the preference for front consonants is more pronounced at the beginning of a word, inward words (front-rear) are preferred to outward words (rear-front; Maschmann et al., 2020). From this account and consistent with our findings, one would assume no generalization of fluency from specific inward/outward sequences to inward/outward sequences from new consonants. ...
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The articulatory in-out effect describes the preference for words with articulation moving inward compared to words with articulation moving outward. A promising explanation is that inward words are more fluent than outward words, but experimental evidence for such reasoning was offered only recently: By training selectively inward or outward words, fluency and consequentially liking was altered, leading to reversed or attenuated in-out effects when outward words were trained. However, it remains unclear whether such training procedures actually impact fluency of inward/outward movements, or whether they solely change the fluency of trained grammars. In two experiments (one preregistered, total N = 501), we show that training inward/outward words increases fluency and liking for trained grammar, but these effects do not generalize to in-out movements. The results show that training effects on liking reflect a structural mere-exposure effect rather than a change in liking for in-out motor movements. Findings are discussed regarding their implications for the fluency account, and the mental representation of inward and outward words.
... Originally, Topolinski et al. (2014) argued that inward articulation resembles food ingestion and outward articulation food expectoration, thus activating associated affective states (inward ➔ food ingestion ➔ positive, outward ➔ food expectoration ➔ negative). More recently, Maschmann, Körner, Boecker, and Topolinski (2020) suggested that people simply prefer front over rear consonants which has a stronger impact at word beginnings. However, both accounts were not supported by recent research Körner & Rummer, 2021;Lindau & Topolinski, 2018a;Maschmann et al., 2020). ...
... More recently, Maschmann, Körner, Boecker, and Topolinski (2020) suggested that people simply prefer front over rear consonants which has a stronger impact at word beginnings. However, both accounts were not supported by recent research Körner & Rummer, 2021;Lindau & Topolinski, 2018a;Maschmann et al., 2020). Our present results call into question the remaining explanation, the articulation fluency account Körner et al., 2019). ...
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Can the mere name of a seller determine his trustworthiness in the eye of the consumer? In 10 studies (total N = 608) we explored username complexity and trustworthiness of eBay seller profiles. Name complexity was manipulated through variations in username pronounceability and length. These dimensions had strong, independent effects on trustworthiness, with sellers with easy-to-pronounce or short usernames being rated as more trustworthy than sellers with difficult-to-pronounce or long usernames, respectively. Both effects were repeatedly found even when objective information about seller reputation was available. We hypothesized the effect of name complexity on trustworthiness to be based on the experience of high vs. low processing fluency, with little awareness of the underlying process. Supporting this, participants could not correct for the impact of username complexity when explicitly asked to do so. Three alternative explanations based on attributions of the variations in name complexity to seller origin (ingroup vs. outgroup), username generation method (seller personal choice vs. computer algorithm) and age of the eBay profiles (10 years vs. 1 year) were tested and ruled out. Finally, we show that manipulating the ease of reading product descriptions instead of the sellers’ names also impacts the trust ascribed to the sellers.
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