Whissell's Dictionary of Affect in Language, originally designed to quantify the Pleasantness and Activation of specifically emotional words, was revised to increase its applicability to samples of natural language. Word selection for the revision privileged natural language, and the matching rate of the Dictionary, which includes 8,742 words, was increased to 90%. Dictionary scores were available for 9 of every 10 words in most language samples. A third rated dimension (Imagery) was added, and normative scores were obtained for natural English. Evidence supports the reliability and validity of ratings. Two sample applications to very disparate instances of natural language are described. The revised Dictionary, which contains ratings for words characteristic of natural language, is a portable tool that can be applied in almost any situation involving language.
Research employing three large lists of words rated along emotional dimensions (total N = 15,761 words) supported a prior claim that most phonemes have a distinct emotional character. Different phonemes tended to occur more often in different types of emotional words. When phonemes were grouped along eight radii in a two dimensional emotional space defined by Pleasantness and Activation (Pleasantness, Cheeriness, Activation, Nastiness, Unpleasantness, Sadness, Passivity, and Softness), it became possible to draw profiles of texts in terms of their preferential use of different classes of phonemes. Four experiments were performed to illustrate the manner in which phonemes in nonsense words are related to emotion, and evidence of the validity of character assignments was investigated and received support in three further analyses. The emotionality of phonemes was related to both place and manner of articulation and to properties of the auditory signal itself. Phonoemotional profiles were drawn for several types of material and provided supporting evidence for the validity of the assignment of emotional character to phonemes.
The 1984 Dictionary of Affect in Language by Sweeney and Whisseli includes more than 4,000 words which have been rated along the bipolar affective dimensions of Evaluation and Activation. A series of three experiments was conducted to evaluate the reliability and validity of the Dictionary and to improve its reliability by the inclusion of additional ratings. Exp. I, II, and III demonstrate the reliability of the Dictionary values and provide evidence of concurrent validity. A further series of three experiments (IV, V, VI) was designed to apply the Dictionary as a tool for assessing or preselecting the affective tone of words. Success (as defined by significant effects) is associated with the use of the Dictionary in choosing words for a verbal learning experiment (IV) and its use to score freely produced self-descriptive word lists (V) and the description of famous media characters (VI).
This article describes a new data base for English word-usage patterns. It improves on older efforts by including television and personal commentaries as sources for the main corpus studied. More than a third of a million words were sampled from media and nonmedia sources and analyzed to produce a parsimonious listing of 6505 words (types) and their frequencies. The reliability and validity of this list were established in a variety of ways, and a computer program based on the list was used to analyze two different sets of data (an exploratory set and one representing an a priori hypothesis about word usage). A mere 206 different words were seen to account for 57% of all the words in the corpus, and 95% of this small set had its roots in Middle English or some older form of English.
Titles of journal articles serve to attract attention and inform potential readers. All titles from 65 volumes of American Psychologist (1946-2010, N = 12,313 titles) were studied in terms of their emotionality, style, and contents. Several trends noted for titles in different kinds of journals from psychology and other disciplines were present in American Psychologist (increasing title length, increasing use of punctuation marks, increasing employment of words with pleasant and arousing connotations, variations in the frequency of different content words). Longer titles allow authors to specify more information, and emotionally upbeat titles are more likely to attract reader attention. In an unexpected quadratic trend, titles became more abstract and the number of titles increased until about 1985, after which the trend was reversed and titles became more concrete as their numbers decreased. Predictors of this trend include societal variables and the journal's editorial policies.
An SPSSX computer program was used to score 48 100-word text passages from novels written by Ernest Hemingway, John Galsworthy, and William Faulkner. The program, called TEXT.NLZ, produced more than 50 objective measures of each passage, including several measures of punctuation, word frequency, and emotionality. Passages written by the three authors were easily discriminable in terms of objective measures, and differences among authors with respect to the objective measures accurately reflected the content of subjective critical comments describing the work of each author.
This article addresses the emotional meaning (phonosymbolism) of the most basic unit of language--the phoneme. Language excerpts from many sources were transcribed phonetically with the help of a computer program. The distributions of phonemes in different sources (song lyrics, poetry, word lists, advertisements) were correlated with the emotionality of the language along two dimensions (activation, evaluation) which had been rated by the Dictionary of Affect using another computer program. Significant results characterized all phases of the analysis. Phonemes were distributed differently in different language samples. Frequency of phonemes in a language sample as well as frequency of phonemes in individual words were correlated with emotion. For example, the phoneme /l/ (the one appearing twice in the word lullaby) was used more often in pleasant language samples, in soft or tender language samples, and in passive words. The phoneme /r/ (appearing twice in the word roar) was found more often in unpleasant words and in active words. Possible sources of the relationship between sound production and emotion are discussed.
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