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Previous research shows that people systematically match tastes with shapes. Here, we assessed the extent to which matching taste and shape stimuli share a common semantic space and whether semantically congruent versus incongruent taste/shape associations can influence the speed with which people respond to both shapes and taste words. In Experiment 1, we used semantic differentiation to assess the semantic space of both taste words and shapes. The results suggest a common semantic space containing two principal components (seemingly potency and evaluation) and two principal clusters, one including round shapes and the taste word “sweet”, and the other including angular shapes and the taste words “salty”, “sour”, and “bitter”. The former cluster appears more positively-valenced whilst less potent than the latter. In Experiment 2, two speeded classification tasks assessed whether congruent versus incongruent mappings of stimuli and responses (e.g., sweet with round versus sweet with angular) would influence participants’ speed of responding, both to shapes and to taste words. The results revealed an overall effect of congruence that was driven mostly when the participants had to classify shapes with taste words as responses. These results are consistent with previous evidence suggesting a close relation (or crossmodal correspondence) between tastes and shape curvature that may derive from common semantic coding, perhaps along the sensory-discriminative and hedonic dimensions.
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