Lucien Baumgartner, Pascale Willemsen, & Kevin Reuter
Baumgartner, L., Willemsen, P., & Reuter, K. (2022). The polarity effect of evaluative language. In J. Culbertson, A. Perfors, Hugh Rabagliati, & V. Ramenzoni (Eds.), Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society.
Publication year: 2022

Recent research on thick terms like ‘rude’ and ‘friendly’ has revealed a polarity effect, according to which the evaluative content of positive thick terms like ‘friendly’ and ‘courageous’ can be more easily cancelled than the evaluative content of negative terms like ‘rude’ and ‘selfish’. In this paper, we study the polarity effect in greater detail. We first demonstrate that the polarity effect is insensitive to manipulations of embeddings (Study 1). Second, we show that the effect occurs not only for thick terms but also for thin terms such as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ (Study 2). We conclude that the polarity effect is indicative of a pervasive asymmetry that holds between positive and negative evaluative terms.