What is the ‘Bouba-Kiki effect’? How does it determine who you have a crush on?

A woman on TikTok has raised an interesting theory about why we’re attracted to certain romantic partners and not others, and it’s launched quite a discussion on social media.

The video, which now has 11.4 million views, was shared by Talia Lichtstein (@talialichtstein), who said she bases it on the pre-existing psychological phenomenon known as the “Bouba-Kiki effect.”

According to Scientific American, the Bouba-Kiki Effect is based on a psychological study that shows test subjects two similar but different shapes: A splat-like image with sharp pointy edges and another with curvy, bubbly edges.

Subjects name them either “Bouba” or “Kiki,” depending on what they think “goes” with each shape. Remarkably, psychologists have repeatedly observed that the vast majority of people name the round shape “Bouba” and the pointy one “Kiki,” even though they have no context as to what the words could mean.

In her viral video, Lichtstein says, “if you get it, you get it, if you don’t, you don’t.” But if you do get it, you might be more likely to see where she’s going with her whole “crush” theory.

“I have always felt that there are people who are either Bouba or Kiki,” Lichtstein explains. “And my type of man — the men that I’m attracted to — are all Bouba and never Kiki.”

By that, she means she leans towards men with softer, rounded features over those with sharp, chiseled jawlines and pointy noses.

“Zac Efron has always been a Kiki and I’ve never liked him, even as a kid,” she explains while running through celeb photos as examples.

On the other hand, someone like Jason Segal gets an A+ in her book.

“This one’s attractive,” says Lichtstein. “This is Bouba.”

Other famous Boubas, according to Lichtstein, include Jon Hamm and Michael B. Jordan, while she believes people like Austin Butler and Robert Pattinson are clear Kikis.

Though she acknowledges that all these men are “objectively hot,” there’s something about the men who lean Kiki that doesn’t do it for her.

“Blech, I could never,” the TikToker says towards the end of her video before asking, “Are you guys following? Am I making any sense?”

Based on the comments she’s been getting, a lot of people are on board with Lichtstein’s theory and can see where she’s coming from.

“You are seen, and you are heard,” one commenter wrote.

“i get it,” said another.

Many people started chiming in with more examples of Boubas and Kikis.

“For me, John Krasinski is the poster boy for Bouba,” one person shared.

“One of my favourite boubas is Andy Samberg,” said another.

“oscar isaac is bubba 1000%” someone else wrote.

Meanwhile, another TikToker, said, “I think young Pedro was kiki but now he’s bouba,” in reference to the actor Pedro Pascal.

“THIS MAKES SO MUCH SENSE,” someone else declared. “I have never had the correct adjective before.”

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