Observations and results
Did all of your volunteers identify the round shape as Bouba and the pointy shape as Kiki, even though they were not told what the words mean? Did you record no incorrect answers?
You most likely found that every volunteer you tested gave only correct answers, or almost entirely correct answers. In other words, the volunteers always, or nearly always, identified each round shape as Bouba and each pointy shape as Kiki. People who have different native languages make this association, as do even very young children most of the time. What does this mean? Is this evidence of a human predisposition to associating certain sounds with abstract concepts? This could indicate that humans did indeed apply the first sounds made in burgeoning languages to certain concepts or symbols, and that the associations with sounds in different languages are not actually random. One theory is that Bouba is associated with the round shape because a more rounded shape is made by our mouths when forming this sound whereas our mouths make a more angular shape when we say "Kiki." Additionally, "K" is a harder-sounding letter than "B." Those who use the modern Latin alphabet (including English speakers) may also be visually swayed: the written letters "K" and "B" are sharp and rounded, respectively.
More to explore
Jaron's World: The Meaning of Metaphor from Discover Magazine
Kiki Bouba: Play the Game from The Fat Duck, Ltd.
The shape of boubas: Sound–shape correspondences in toddlers and adults (pdf) from Daphne Maurer, Thanujeni Pathman, and Catherine J. Mondloch, Developmental Science
The Bouba–Kiki Effect from Science Buddies
This activity brought to you in partnership with Science Buddies