The Bouba-Kiki Effect

Which shape, a pointy and jagged polygon or a bulbous ameboid, would you name “bouba” and which would name “kiki?”  In most scientific research,  upwards of 90% of people will associate the pointy with “kiki” and the round with “bouba.” This worldwide phenomenon is known as the “Bouba-Kiki Effect” and has been recorded in many languages, and even with toddlers! Why we all have an uncanny knack for linking nonsensical visual and auditory stimuli isn’t clear,  but cognitive psychologists like Kelly McCormick have several likely theories.


Produced by Luke Groskin and Shira Polan
Filmed by Jason Drakeford and Luke Groskin
Music Audio Network
Audio Recording by Annie Minoff
Additional Video and Stills by
Kelly McCormick

Meet the Producer

About Luke Groskin

Luke Groskin is Science Friday’s video producer. He’s on a mission to make you love spiders and other odd creatures.