Do inward and outward consonants and vowels
have different effects on customer’s liking rates
towards the brand names?

Dublin Core


Do inward and outward consonants and vowels
have different effects on customer’s liking rates
towards the brand names?


Keung Wang Shan




The origin of speech development starts with the way that infants or children produce their first words. In the early stage of speech acquisition, children tend to produce particular syllables that are low in energy to produce, such as intrasyllabic and intersyllabic consonant-vowel co-occurrence patterns (MacNeilage et al., 2000). Such patterns may have an effect on individual’s preference for words later in life, such as for brand names. More pointedly, according to Topolinski et al. (2014), there is an in-out effect which significantly affect individual’s liking rates towards the brand names that contain inward and outward consonants. However, previous findings have only focused on such effects on consonants, whereas there is insufficient research on the combination effects of consonants and vowels on brand names. Therefore, this study is designed to investigate whether such in-out effects of both consonants and vowels of English brand names have association with customer’s emotional response to the words, as well as whether the involvement of MacNeilage syllables in the brand names are associated with customer’s liking rate. The whole experiment was conducted through an online questionnaire consisting of 360 sound stimuli to test on participant’s liking rate towards the brand names which are non-words with the combination of inward and outward consonants and vowels, and Macneilage syllables. Results of the study showed that liking rates towards the brand names are significantly increased for the ones that include inward consonants and vowels, while lower liking rates were associated with outward consonants and vowels. Not to mention, no significant relationship was found between the number of MacNeilage syllables and one’s preference towards the brand names, yet individuals had higher preference for brand names that contained MacNeilage syllables as the first syllable of the word. 


Consonants, vowels, MacNeilage syllables, brand names, liking rates


A total of 51 participants who spoke different first languages were recruited through researcher’s family and friends as well as invited via SONA. They were all healthy individuals with normal vision and hearing, all aged 18 or above with no health conditions. The participants included 23 males and 28 females, with the age range from 22 to 28 and a mean age of 23.33, SD=.
The study was carried out as an online questionnaire which consisted of four open ended questions at the beginning and 360 questions with a 10-point Likert scale to display the answers. The whole questionnaire was based on the liking rate of the brand names that were presented as sound stimuli displayed in the questionnaire. The first four open ended questions were designed to ask participants’ age, gender, first language and whether they speak other languages (see Appendix D). Next, 360 questions each containing an audio of a sound stimulus that was between one to three seconds were presented in the questionnaire (see Appendix D). All sound stimuli were recorded by the researcher’s supervisor who was a native English speaker with a Northern English accent with training in phonology beforehand, which were also produced in a monotone. Within the 360 sound stimuli, they were divided into six different sets which included six combinations of inward and outward consonants and vowels. The total six sets of stimuli included nonwords that contained consonants that required the articulation from front to the middle to back of the mouth (inward) (FMB), from front to back to middle (FBM), from middle to front to back (MFB), from middle to back to front (MBF), from back to middle to front (outward) (BMF) and from back to front to middle (BFM). There was a total of 60 stimuli with the same articulation of consonants and different articulation of vowels in each set, and 10 stimuli with the same articulation of both consonants and vowels in each set. Within each set of the same articulation of consonants, six possible combinations of front/middle/back vowels were paired up with the consonants to create the stimuli so that every possible arrangement of front/middle/back consonants and vowels was tested in the questionnaire. Moreover, among the 360 stimuli, 120 of them contained zero MacNeilage syllables, 178 of them contained one MacNeilage syllables while 62 of them contained three MacNeilage syllables. To ensure that there was no personal bias towards the brand names, all stimuli were nonwords that were created by the researcher so that participants would not be familiar with any of the brand names.
Before the study began, all participants were sent a participant information sheet and consent form through email (see Appendix A & B). Participants were then also given a link to the online questionnaire which was attached in the same email. At the beginning of the questionnaire, four open-ended questions on personal information were presented and participants were asked to answer their age, gender, first language and whether they speak other languages (see Appendix D). After completing the four questions, participants had to answer 360 questions with each containing an audio of a sound stimuli, which were referred as brand names in this survey. Each question was displayed as ‘how much do you like this brand name’ and participants were asked to rate each sound stimuli according to their preference on the 10-point Likert scale, labelled as 1 as the lowest and 10 as the highest (see Appendix D). There was a ‘play’ button in every question where participants could play the sound stimulus and they were allowed to play the audio as many times as they prefer if they wished. In the questionnaire, five questions were presented on each page and there was 73 pages in total, including one page in the beginning for the four open-ended questions. The 360 questions on the sound stimuli were presented in randomised order for each participant to ensure there were no order effects relating to individual stimuli in the data. The whole study took around 20 to 30 minutes depending on whether the participants replayed the audios or not. After completing the questionnaire, all participants were delivered a debrief sheet via email, allowing them to ask any questions regarding the study (see Appendix C).
The study was granted ethics approval on 19/05/2022. Both a participants information sheet and consent form were delivered to all participants before the study began to indicate their rights to withdraw up to three weeks after participating in the experiment if they had changed their minds. After completion of the questionnaire, a debrief sheet was sent out to participants to allow them to raise questions regarding the study. They were also informed that their participation was confidential, with all data stored in encrypted files.


Lancaster University






Keung Wang Shan













Padraic Moonaghan

Project Level



Developmental Psychology

Sample Size

51 participants

Statistical Analysis Type

Linear mixed effects modelling



Keung Wang Shan, “ Do inward and outward consonants and vowels
have different effects on customer’s liking rates
towards the brand names?
,” LUSTRE, accessed April 19, 2024,