Genetic semantics defends the existence of abstract ideas. As shown with the Bouba-Kiki effect, there is no difference at a certain level between acoustic and visual shapes, colours, postures, gestures, … We feel this when we compare sign systems, for example we can call a colour, a sound as well as a taste ‘sharp’. When this phenomenon occurs spontaneously, it is called synaesthesia: the simultaneous experience of an emotion in e.g. colour and smell, or sound and form.

Synesthesia takes place on the dimensional abstract level. For example the colour parameter weight, which is strongly correlated to the lightness parameter, evokes the same emotion as does the size parameter of shape. The relation with area proportion (size of the coloured object) appears to be most significant for the heavy/lightweight colour emotional scale (Wang, 2007). This creates a relationship of meaning between the colour quality heavy/light and the shape quality large/small, both placed in the height dimension of the semantic space.

As was shown previously, the height dimension is psychologically and emotionally linked to power, control and dominance. Heaviness or darkness and area proportion are colour and shape parameters that radiate the same emotions.

SLIDE-23-synaesthesia1The higher the bulge on the top of an object, the more aggressiveness it radiates (Roebers, 2013). There is a possible relationship with the testosterone hormone. People who set up a large posture have an increased amount of testosterone in the blood. With that, they radiate more power, willingness to win and a sense of domination (Carney et al., 2010). Lakoff and Johnson (1999) saw that there are many proverbs and sayings that have to do with this form characteristic and certain emotions. Above / high: better, powerful, good, positive, important, wealth, luxury, expensive, overfull, high regard, visible, bossy, ambitious, risky, distinguished, conceited, information-rich, certainty. Under / deep / low: less good, submissive, shabby, problematic, less important, fear, negative, broken, distrusted.