I’ve just found a short-but-sweet study recently published in Psychological Science that shows that we tend to rate things with difficult to pronounce names as more risky than those with names that we can say more fluently.
Easy to pronounce ‘additives’ with names like Magnalroxate were consistently rated as less risky than names such as Hnegripitrom.
Wanting to see whether the same effect held for risks that could be seen as exciting, they ran a similar experiment but where participants were asked to rate amusement park rides.
Rides with names like Ohanzee were rated as less likely to make you sick than difficult-to-pronounce rides with names like Tsiischili, but were also rated as less adventurous.
The researchers note that their study is in line with previous research on cognitive biases, which has found that we tend to underestimate the risk of familiar things and over-estimate the risk of things we don’t know so well.
Link to PubMed entry for study.