A new study suggests that how we feel about a given word can be affected by how easy it is to type on a standard QWERTY keyboard.
Writing in the Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, cognitive scientist Kyle Jasmin and social psychologist Daniel Cassanato say that words with more letters on the right side of the keyboard tend to carry more positive associations than those typed mostly on the left side.
"People are faster to type with their right hand than their left hand," Jasmin said. "Combined with the fact that keyboard is asymmetrical, with more letters on left than the right, we had to know if there was correlation there."
To figure it out, they analyzed an index of 1,000 words in English, Spanish and Dutch, comparing their perceived positivity with how hard they are to type. They found right-sided words were significantly favored.
They also tested the "QWERTY effect" by asking a group of 800 people on Amazon's Mechanical Turk to rate how positively they felt about various words, and again found that people favor easier-to-type words.
Jasmin and Cassanato emphasize that a word's position on the keyboard doesn't matter as much as its actual meaning, but it does appear to play a significant role in how we perceive words.
Next, they plan to test various international keyboard layouts, to see if their theory holds true for non-QWERTY users.