Front in the mouth, front in the word: The driving mechanisms of the in-out effect.

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


  • Ira Theresa Maschmann
  • Anita Körner
  • Lea Boecker
  • Sascha Topolinski

Words for which the consonantal articulation spots wander from the front to the back of the mouth (inward) elicit more positive attitudes than words with the reversed order (outward). The present article questions the common theoretical explanation of this effect, namely an association between articulation movements and oral movements during ingestion and expectoration (inward resembles eating which is positive; outward resembles spitting which is negative). In 4 experiments (total N = 468), we consistently replicated the basic in-out effect; but no evidence was found supporting an eating-related underlying mechanism. The in-out effect was not modulated by disgust inductions (Experiments 1, 2, 4, and 10) or food deprivation (Experiment 3). In 6 further experiments (total N = 1,067), we explored a novel alternative explanation, namely that the in-out effect is simply a position-specific preference for front consonants over back consonants. In these experiments, we found in-out-like preference effects for fragments that lacked an actual front-to-back movement but featured only starting (e.g., B _ _ _ _) or ending (e.g., _ _ _ K) consonants (Experiments 6-8). Consonants that are articulated in the front of the mouth were generally preferred over those articulated in the back of the mouth, and this basic preference was stronger at the beginning of a word-like stimulus (Experiments 6-10), thus explaining the preference pattern of the in-out effect. The present evidence speaks against an eating-related (embodied) explanation and suggests a simple word-morphologic explanation of the in-out effect.

ZeitschriftJournal of Personality and Social Psychology
Seiten (von - bis)792-807
Anzahl der Seiten16
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 10.2020