“Risky” Names (10-16-19)

Botner, Mishra, and Mishra link various types of sounds, when used in names, to perception of risk.  The team found that “For decisions involving greater risk and reward for the consumer, marketing decision- makers may benefit from using more volatile names. That is, a risky financial portfolio targeting adventurous investors that seek high risk and reward could use a volatile name. Conversely, when people seek more certain outcomes, a calm name could be more effective; e.g., a conservative money market account may be perceived as more stable and thus more effective in garnering interest from cautious investors if its name appears calm. Or, consider a charity or fundraising initiative with a high or low probability of success at its onset. In this instance, a more volatile project name could garner greater donations when positioned as an underdog or long shot. Conversely, when positioned as having a high chance of success, the project could receive greater buy-in when its project name is more calm.”  Examples of volatile and calm names are provided: “Taketa”is seems more volatilethan “Maluma.”

Keith Botner, Arul Mishra, and Himanshu Mishra.  “The Influence of the Phonetic Elements of a Name on Risk Assessment.”  Journal of Consumer Research, in press, https://doi.org/10.1093/jcr/ucz050