Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Journal of psycholinguistic research


This study assessed the effect of experimentally manipulated emotional arousal on swearing fluency. We hypothesised that swear word generation would be increased with raised emotional arousal. The emotional arousal of 60 participants was manipulated by having them play a first-person shooter video game or, as a control, a golf video game, in a randomised order. A behavioural measure of swearing fluency based on the Controlled Oral Word Association Test was employed. Successful experimental manipulation was indicated by raised State Hostility Questionnaire scores after playing the shooter game. Swearing fluency was significantly greater after playing the shooter game compared with the golf game. Validity of the swearing fluency task was demonstrated via positive correlations with self-reported swearing fluency and daily swearing frequency. In certain instances swearing may represent a form of emotional expression. This finding will inform debates around the acceptability of using taboo language.

Concepts: First-person shooter, Video game genres, Shooter game


Certain English constructions permit two syntactic alternations. (1) a. I looked up the number. b. I looked the number up. (2) a. He is often at the office. b. He often is at the office. This study investigates the relationship between syntactic alternations and processing difficulty. What cognitive mechanisms are responsible for our attraction to some alternations and our aversion to others?This article reviews three psycholinguistic models of the relationship between syntactic alternations and processing: Maximum Per Word Surprisal (building on the ideas of Hale, in Proceedings of the 2nd Meeting of the North American chapter of the association for computational linguistics. Association for Computational Linguistics, Pittsburgh, PA, pp 159-166, 2001), Uniform Information Density (UID) (Levy and Jaeger in Adv Neural Inf Process Syst 19:849-856, 2007; inter alia), and Dependency Length Minimization (DLM) (Gildea and Temperley in Cognit Sci 34:286-310, 2010). Each theory makes predictions about which alternations native speakers should favor. Subjects were recruited using Amazon Mechanical Turk and asked to judge which of two competing syntactic alternations sounded more natural. Logistic regression analysis on the resulting data suggests that both UID and DLM are powerful predictors of human preferences. We conclude that alternations that approach uniform information density and minimize dependency length are easier to process than those that do not.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Prediction, Linguistics, Amazon Web Services,, The Turk, Computational linguistics


Although swearing is taboo language, it frequently appears in daily conversations. To explain this paradox, two studies examined contextualized swearing in Indian and non-Indian participants. In Study 1, participants assessed the appropriateness of mild, moderate, and severe swears in casual and abusive contexts; in Study 2, participants completed contextual dialogues with mild, moderate, or severe swearwords. Results indicated that mild and moderate swears were more appropriate in casual settings than in abusive scenarios; severe swears were the most inappropriate, regardless of context. Mild and moderate swears were likely to be used to complete casual and abusive dialogues respectively, even though it was expected that severe swears would be compatible with abusive settings. Moreover, gender and nationality differences suggested that assessing appropriateness of swearing behaviour and likelihood of swearword usage provided independent and contrasting findings. Cultural variations in swearing behaviour, particularly contextualized swearing, and suggestions for further research are outlined.

Concepts: Ethics, Value, Religion, Morality, Profanity


Cognitive linguists claim that verb-particle constructions are compositional and analyzable, and that the particles contribute to the overall meaning in the form of image schemas. This article examined this claim with a behavioral experiment, in which participants were asked to judge the sensibility of short sentences primed by image-schematic pictures. Results showed that for sentences containing spatial VP constructions, the latency followed the order of “agreement primes [Formula: see text] neutral primes [Formula: see text] disagreement primes”, while for sentences of non-spatial VP constructions, the order was “neutral primes [Formula: see text] agreement primes [Formula: see text] disagreement primes”. This suggests that the activation of the corresponding image schemas influences both types of VP constructions, providing new evidence for the embodied account of language and thought. The different processing patterns between the spatial and non-spatial VP constructions are also discussed in the theoretical framework of Construction Grammar.

Concepts: Psychology, Mathematics, Cognition, Science, Cognitive science, Linguistics, Semantics, Cognitive linguistics


The processes tapped by the widely-used word association (WA) paradigm remain a matter of debate: while some authors consider them as driven by lexical co-occurrences, others emphasize the role of meaning-based connections. To test these contrastive hypotheses, we analyzed responses in a WA task in terms of their normative defining features (those describing the object denoted by the cue word). Results indicate that 72.5% of the responses had medium-to-high coincidence with such defining semantic features. Moreover, 75.51% of responses had medium-to-high values of Relevance (a measure of the importance of the feature for construing a given concept). Furthermore, most responses (62.7%) referred to elements of the situation in which the concept usually appears, followed by sensory properties (e.g., color) of the denoted object (27.86%). These results suggest that the processes behind WA tasks involve a reactivation of the cue item’s semantic properties, particularly those most relevant to its core meaning.


This study investigated the specific emotional lexicons in narratives created by persons diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) to test the hypothesis that individuals with ASPD exhibit deficiencies in emotional language. Study participants consisted of 60 prison inmates with ASPD, 40 prison inmates without ASPD, and 60 men without antisocial tendencies who described situations involving love, hate and anxiety depicted by photographs. The lexical choices made in the narratives were analyzed, and a comparison of the three groups revealed differences between the emotional narratives of inmates with ASPD, inmates without ASPD, and the control group. Although the narratives of the individuals with ASPD included more words describing emotions and higher levels of emotional intensity, the valence of these words was inappropriate. The linguistic characteristics of these narratives were associated with high levels of psychopathy and low emotional reactivity.

Concepts: Mental disorder, Antisocial personality disorder


This study investigated whether the phonological representation of a word is modulated by its orthographic representation in case of a mismatch between the two representations. Such a mismatch is found in Persian, where short vowels are represented phonemically but not orthographically. Persian adult literates, Persian adult illiterates, and German adult literates were presented with two auditory tasks, an AX-discrimination task and a reversal task. We assumed that if orthographic representations influence phonological representations, Persian literates should perform worse than Persian illiterates or German literates on items with short vowels in these tasks. The results of the discrimination tasks showed that Persian literates and illiterates as well as German literates were approximately equally competent in discriminating short vowels in Persian words and pseudowords. Persian literates did not well discriminate German words containing phonemes that differed only in vowel length. German literates performed relatively poorly in discriminating German homographic words that differed only in vowel length. Persian illiterates were unable to perform the reversal task in Persian. The results of the other two participant groups in the reversal task showed the predicted poorer performance of Persian literates on Persian items containing short vowels compared to items containing long vowels only. German literates did not show this effect in German. Our results suggest two distinct effects of orthography on phonemic representations: whereas the lack of orthographic representations seems to affect phonemic awareness, homography seems to affect the discriminability of phonemic representations.


We have developed a False-Belief (FB) understanding task for use on a computer tablet, trying to assess FB understanding in a less social way. It is based on classical FB protocols, and additionally includes a manipulation of language in an attempt to explore the facilitating effect of linguistic support during FB processing. Specifically, the FB task was presented in three auditory conditions: narrative, silent, and interference. The task was assumed to shed new light on the FB difficulties often observed in Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Sixty-eight children with ASD (M = 7.5 years) and an age matched comparison group with 98 typically developing (TD) children were assessed with the FB task. The children with ASD did not perform above chance level in any condition, and significant differences in success rates were found between the groups in two conditions (silent and narrative), with TD children performing better. We discuss implications, limitations, and further developments.

Concepts: Autism, Pervasive developmental disorder, Performance, Computer program, Asperger syndrome, Autism spectrum, PDD-NOS, Computer software


This study examines effects of memory load on the processing of scalar implicature via a dual-task paradigm using reading span and self-paced reading. Results indicate that participants showed online sensitivity to underinformative sentences (e.g., Some birds have wings and beaks) at the end of the sentence. This online sensitivity disappeared when participants were under increased memory load. Moreover, participants in the memory-load condition did not show sensitivity to semantically false sentences (e.g., All books have pictures and drawings). These results pose important conceptual and methodological questions of (1) whether the processing cost associated with scalar implicatures can be attributed to general proposition evaluation rather than scalar implicature derivation per se (Bale et al. in Semant Linguist Theory 20:525-543, 2010), and (2) to what degree memory load affects implicature computation only. I conclude with a discussion of these two issues for future research.


There is evidence that orthographic knowledge can influence on-line spoken-word recognition. Interestingly, when graphic and phonetic codes are not congruent due to the application of phonological alternation processes, people report hearing sounds that are matched to graphic (underlying), not phonetic codes (Hallé et al. in J Mem Lang 43:618-639, 2000). It is, however, not known whether the same effect arises in the processing of a non-native language (L2). In the present study, advanced Mandarin learners of Korean as well as native Korean listeners performed a phoneme monitoring task using words undergoing obstruent nasalization in Korean. The results showed that orthographic information dominated the phonetic judgments of the native Korean listeners, while the Mandarin learners' judgments relied more on the phonetic input. These results suggest that even the lexical access of highly experienced L2 learners differs from that of native speakers and that advanced learners still have difficulty employing orthographic information to access the L2 lexicon.