Rhyme-as-reason effect

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The rhyme-as-reason effect, or Eaton-Rosen phenomenon,[1][2][3] is a cognitive bias whereupon a saying or aphorism is judged as more accurate or truthful when it is rewritten to rhyme.

In experiments, subjects judged variations of sayings which did and did not rhyme, and tended to evaluate those that rhymed as more truthful (controlled for meaning). For example, the statement "What sobriety conceals, alcohol reveals" was judged to be more accurate than by different participants who saw "What sobriety conceals, alcohol unmasks".[4]

The effect could be caused by the Keats heuristic, according to which a statement's truth is evaluated according to aesthetic qualities;[5] or the fluency heuristic, according to which things could be preferred due their ease of cognitive processing.[6]

For an example of the persuasive quality of the rhyme-as-reason effect, see "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit," the signature phrase used by Johnnie Cochran to gain acquittal for O. J. Simpson in Simpson's murder trial.


  1. ^ Marsh, Robert (2017). "Timex and Beowulf and a copywriting secret you should know".
  2. ^ "The Rhyme-as-Reason Effect: Why Rhyming Makes Your Message More Persuasive". 2019.
  3. ^ McOwan, Peter William; Curzon, Paul (2017). The Power of Computational Thinking: Games, Magic and Puzzles to Help You Become a Computational Thinker.
  4. ^ McGlone, M. S.; J. Tofighbakhsh (2000). "Birds of a feather flock conjointly (?): rhyme as reason in aphorisms". Psychological Science. 11 (5): 424–428. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.00282. PMID 11228916.
  5. ^ McGlone, M. S.; J. Tofighbakhsh (1999). "The Keats heuristic: Rhyme as reason in aphorism interpretation". Poetics. 26 (4): 235–244. doi:10.1016/s0304-422x(99)00003-0.
  6. ^ Kahneman, Daniel (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.