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Analyzing Alliterations Affect

The poetic or literary style using several words that begin with the same or similar consonants is an ageless method to communicate in a format that fosters memory while being fun to read.

In several experiments, researchers R. Brooke Lea of Macalester College, David N. Rapp of Northwestern University, Andrew Elfenbein and Russell Swinburne Romine of University of Minnesota and Aaron D. Mitchel of the Pennsylvania State University had participants read works of poetry and prose with alliterative sentences to show the importance of repetitive consonants on memory.

Previous studies have shown that alliteration can act as a better tool for memory than both imagery and meaning, however the reason for this has never been established.

In their experiments the researchers hoped to demonstrate that alliterations retrieve similar sounding words and phrases from a person’s memory, making it a useful tool for poetry comprehension and memorization.

In one experiment, a group of participants read aloud poems with similar alliterative sounds throughout it while other participants had to read aloud poems with either different alliterative sounds or no alliterations at all. A second experiment had the same conditions, except that participants read a series of poems silently.

The final experiment had participants read a work of narrative prose, also with the same conditions in regards to alliterative sounds in the literature. In each experiment, participants had to recall both content and thematic aspects from the works that they read.

The results of all three experiments underscore the interaction between alliteration and memory. In each of the experiments, participants in the same-alliteration condition were able to recall the most from the literature they read.

“In our experiments, concepts presented early in a poem (or prose passage) were more available when alliterative sounds overlapped between lines than when there was no overlap,” the researchers reported.

Additionally, the results of the other experiments, published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, show that alliteration’s affect on memory is not lessened by either the type of work it is used in or whether or not the literature is read silently or aloud.

Most importantly, the results demonstrate alliteration only works as a tool for memory when the alliterative sounds are similar; while the participants in the same-alliteration condition did well in each experiment, those in the other two conditions had similar, less impressive results.

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Analyzing Alliterations Affect

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Analyzing Alliterations Affect. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 18, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/07/31/analyzing-alliterations-affect/2676.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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