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Monday, April 18, 2011
Dialing numbers on your cellphone can elicit concepts
Observations by Topolinski note an interesting consequence of our cell phone habits:
When people perform actions, effects associated with the actions are activated mentally, even if those effects are not apparent. This study tested whether sequences of simulations of virtual action effects can be integrated into a meaning of their own. Cell phones were used to test this hypothesis because pressing a key on a phone is habitually associated with both digits (dialing numbers) and letters (typing text messages). In the first experiment, dialing digit sequences induced the meaning of words that share the same key sequence (e.g., 5683, LOVE). This occurred even though the letters were not labeled on the keypad, and participants were not aware of the digit-letter correspondences. In a second experiment, subjects preferred dialing numbers implying positive words (e.g., 37326, DREAM) over dialing numbers implying negative words (e.g., 75463, SLIME). Finally, subjects preferred companies with phone numbers implying a company-related word (e.g., LOVE for a dating agency, CORPSE for a mortician) compared with companies with phone numbers implying a company-unrelated word.