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


In the present study, we investigated younger and older Persian preschoolers' response tendency and accuracy toward yes/no questions about a coloring activity. Overall, 107 three- to four-year-olds and five- to six-year-old children were asked positive and negative yes/no questions about a picture coloring activity. The questions focused on three question contents namely, actions, environment and person. As for children’s response tendency, they showed a compliance tendency. That is, they provided yes and no responses to positively and negatively formed questions respectively. Children especially younger ones were more compliant toward positive questions and their tendency decreased by age. In addition, the results revealed children’s highest rate of compliance tendency toward environment inquiries. Concerning response accuracy, the effects of age and question content were significant. Specifically, older children provided more accurate responses than their younger counterparts, especially to yes/no questions asked about the actions performed during the activity. The findings suggest that depending on the format and the content of yes/no questions younger and older children’s response accuracy and tendency differ.


Initial instruction emphasizing large grain units (i.e., words) showed distinct advantages over small grain instruction for English-speaking adults learning to read an artificial orthography (Brennan and Booth in Read Writ 28(7):917-938, 2015. The current study extends this research by training 34 English-speaking adults to read Russian Cyrillic given initial instruction emphasizing either large or small units (words or letters). Results reveal no differences on word learning, but higher accuracy on letter-phoneme matching given letter-based instruction and higher accuracy on rime-rhyme matching given word-based instruction. Differences in phonological awareness (PA) skill showed that higher PA skill resulted in higher accuracy and slower reaction times only for the adults given the instruction with the word emphasis, suggesting that adults with high PA skill given word-based instruction may engage in time intensive small grain analyses (e.g., grapheme-phoneme correspondence) even when their attention is directed to larger grain units. Overall, these results extend previous findings and reveal that word and letter-based instruction each have distinct advantages for facilitating increased sensitivity to either letters/phonemes or rimes/rhymes when adults are learning a natural second (L2) consistent alphabetic orthography.