Using the Revised Dictionary of Affect in Language to quantify the emotional undertones of samples of natural language

Psychol Rep. 2009 Oct;105(2):509-21. doi: 10.2466/PR0.105.2.509-521.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Association
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagination
  • Judgment
  • Male
  • Natural Language Processing*
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Reading*
  • Semantics*
  • Software*
  • Young Adult