Mind Games 9: Answers

26. Cowboy logic

The cowboy’s horse is called Friday! Okay, so it’s a sneaky one – but it still makes you think laterally. When no ordinary solution to a problem is possible, you have to come up with a radically different way of thinking about the terms of the question.

Back to Mind Games.

27. Kiki and Bouba

If you called the curvy shape “Bouba” and the spiky one “Kiki”, you agree with 95-98% of people who’ve been asked this question. The Bouba/Kiki Effect, as it’s called, seems to be universal: the experiment has been done with American college undergraduates, Tamil speakers in India and Spanish speakers on Tenerife. Even children as young as two and a half prefer the same names.

This is interesting for several reasons. It shows that the human brain gives abstract meaning to shapes and sounds, and makes connections between them. Also, the way we name objects might not be completely random. It’s possible that we call the round shape "Bouba" because our mouths become rounded when we say the word, whereas our mouths make a more angular shape when saying “Kiki”. (Intriguingly, it’s been shown that people with autism only pick the typical answer 60% of the time.)

Back to Mind Games.

- By Olivia Rose-Innes and Senora Sine Thirteen, Health24, August 2011

More Mind Games

Do you have a great brain teaser? Please send it in; we'll choose the best for inclusion in future Mind Games.

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