The Power Of Words: Words are free, its how you use them that may cost you
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Simon May. His work has been translated into ten languages. Edited by Marina Benjamin. Why the proliferation of emojis? The craze for all things cute is motivated, most obviously, by the urge to escape from precisely such a threatening world into a garden of innocence in which childlike qualities arouse deliciously protective feelings, and bestow contentment and solace.
Cute cues include behaviours that appear helpless, harmless, charming and yielding, and anatomical features such as outsize heads, protruding foreheads, saucer-like eyes, retreating chins and clumsy gaits. Perhaps, as the Austrian scholar of animal behaviour Konrad Lorenz suggested in , our response to these sorts of cues evolved to motivate us to give our offspring the extensive care and nurture that they need to prosper. According to Lorenz, the same visual cues can arouse us to equally intense — or possibly more intense — caregiving when we encounter them in exaggerated and distilled form in animals, such as birds and puppies, and even in dummy models, such as dolls and teddy bears.
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It is hulking yet vulnerable-seeming, familiar and also unfamiliar, reassuringly innocent and also unsafe, defective, knowing. It both comforts us in a world of unnerving uncertainty — and gives voice to that same world, but crucially in a lighthearted register.
Why the power of cute is colonising our world | Aeon Ideas
In the ever-changing styles and objects that exemplify it, it is nothing if not transient, and it lacks any claim to lasting significance. Plus it exploits the way that indeterminacy, when pressed beyond a certain point, becomes menacing — which is a reality that cute is able to render beguiling precisely because it does so trivially, charmingly, unmenacingly.
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It is reflected, too, in their frequent blending of human and nonhuman forms, as in the cat-girl Hello Kitty. Apparently these quirks stem from the decision of early Greek mapmakers to plot the northern hemisphere above the southern hemisphere—a decision that frustrated, among others, an Australian named Stuart McArthur, who proposed a corrective map that reversed the projection.
What ancient mapmakers did unwittingly for north and south, lawyers do intentionally when they describe accident scenes. These labels really matter, as Elizabeth Loftus and John Palmer showed in a classic experiment. After a group of students watched the same series of traffic accidents, they were asked how fast the cars were going when the accident occurred. Beyond their meaning, words also differ according to how easy they are to pronounce. People generally prefer not to think more than necessary, and they tend to prefer objects, people, products, and words that are simple to pronounce and understand.
In , my colleague Daniel Oppenheimer and I investigated the performance of hundreds of stocks immediately after they were listed on the financial markets between and We discovered that companies with simpler names that were easier to pronounce received a greater post-release bump than did companies with complex names. I also wrote about this phenomenon for the New York Post.
Even stocks with pronounceable ticker codes e. An investor who placed a thousand dollars in the ten most fluently named stocks between and would have earned a fifteen-per-cent return after just one day of trading, whereas the same thousand dollars invested in the ten least fluently named stocks would have earned a return of only four per cent.
In the magazine last year, John Colapinto wrote about the virtues of simplicity in choosing brand names. Even the names people choose for their children vary from simple to complex, and that decision determines some of their outcomes later in life.