Typing numbers on a phone keypad that correspond to the letters in a word like "love" can activate the meaning of the word in our minds and make us feel good, a study published Wednesday says.
German psychological scientist Sascha Topolinski conducted a series of experiments to determine this, including one where he gave a cell phone with stickers obscuring the letters on the keypad to a group of several dozen professionals and asked them to type number sequences that correspond to words.
The participants in the experiment were told the study was looking at the ergonomics of different number sequences on phone keypads. Ergonomics is the science of fitting workplace environments and tools to users.
Some of the words they typed without realizing were positive, like 54323 for "Liebe," which in English would be 5683 for "love," or 787263 for "Strand," which means "beach."
The study participants also typed "negative" number sequences on the keypad - things like 7245346 for "Schleim," which is close to its English equivalent, "slime," or 35363 for "Elend," or misery.
After they had tapped out the numbers, participants were asked to rate on a scale of zero to 10 how pleasant an experience they had doing it.
"Participants preferred dialing numbers implying positive words over numbers implying negative words," Topolinski wrote in the study.
"This finding suggests that the affective meaning of emotional words can be induced by merely dialing numbers that imply those words via key concordance," the study says.
Topolinski also looked at whether people's attitudes toward a person or business can be shaped by a phone number.
For that experiment, participants were given four phone numbers that included a numerical combination that corresponded to a business, such as 5683 or "love" for a dating agency, and four that did not.
When they got through to the number, they heard a message on an answering machine along the lines of: "This is Miller's dating agency. Here you'll find love!" and were asked to indicate how attractive the company was to them on a scale from zero (very unattractive) to 10 (very attractive).
"Participants preferred companies with matching phone numbers over companies with mismatching phone numbers," the study says.
And the feel-good factor was not limited to positive concepts in this experiment: the study participants "preferred the mortician whose phone number included 534243 for "Leiche," which means "corpse," over the mortician whose phone number corresponded to an unrelated word, like "Salad."Reuse content