QWERTY effect how keyboard work affects our psychology

(ORDO NEWS) — The arrangement of letters on the keyboard affects our attitude to different words. It turns out that words that consist of letters located on the right side of the keyboard, that is, to the right of the letters “y”, “h”, and “n”, cause us more positive feelings than those that consist of letters on the left side of the keyboard. This is the QWERTY effect. And now evidence of its existence has been found all over the web.

David Garcia of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and Markus Strohmeier of the Leibniz Institute for Social Sciences in Mannheim have found evidence of the real existence of the QWERTY effect all over the Internet.

They analyzed millions of English product titles, book titles, movies, and video clips across 11 sites including Amazon, YouTube, and Rotten Tomatoes.

On nine of these sites, objects with names containing a higher proportion of letters on the right side of the keyboard tend to be rated higher by visitors than objects with names of left-hand letters.

Garcia and Strohmeyer also studied the texts of online reviews and testimonials. Positive reviews also showed more words with letters on the right side of the keyboard.

However, Garcia notes that products with more right-handed names are not necessarily always more successful than left-handed ones.

The top-selling products on Amazon, for example, do not show a pronounced QWERTY effect. The scientists presented their report at the International World Wide Web Conference in Toronto.

“This correlation with positive emotions is amazing,” says Naomi Baron, author of Words on a Screen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World. “If you look at the history of the origin of the QWERTY keyboard, it had nothing to do with emotions.”

Other researchers who have studied this effect have suggested that the psychological phenomenon is rooted in the fact that right-handed letters are easier to type, but Baron suggests another option.

The vowels found on this side of the keyboard – i.e. “y”, “u”, “i”, and “o” – are known for being associated with positive words and meanings. Perhaps it’s not the letters, but the sounds of the words. As Baron remarks, “We put emotions not in consonants, but mostly in vowels.”

The QWERTY effect once again proves how much our aesthetic preferences, emotions and associations are dictated by absolutely unconscious, and often random effects that have nothing to do with the assessment or direct significance of the object being evaluated.

Undoubtedly, the study of such an interesting psychological phenomenon will be continued. Garcia and Strohmeyer, meanwhile, have posted their data online for anyone to see.


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