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      On the Relation between the General Affective Meaning and the Basic Sublexical, Lexical, and Inter-lexical Features of Poetic Texts—A Case Study Using 57 Poems of H. M. Enzensberger

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          The literary genre of poetry is inherently related to the expression and elicitation of emotion via both content and form. To explore the nature of this affective impact at an extremely basic textual level, we collected ratings on eight different general affective meaning scales—valence, arousal, friendliness, sadness, spitefulness, poeticity, onomatopoeia, and liking—for 57 German poems (“ die verteidigung der wölfe”) which the contemporary author H. M. Enzensberger had labeled as either “friendly,” “sad,” or “spiteful.” Following Jakobson's ( 1960) view on the vivid interplay of hierarchical text levels, we used multiple regression analyses to explore the specific influences of affective features from three different text levels (sublexical, lexical, and inter-lexical) on the perceived general affective meaning of the poems using three types of predictors: (1) Lexical predictor variables capturing the mean valence and arousal potential of words; (2) Inter-lexical predictors quantifying peaks, ranges, and dynamic changes within the lexical affective content; (3) Sublexical measures of basic affective tone according to sound-meaning correspondences at the sublexical level (see Aryani et al., 2016). We find the lexical predictors to account for a major amount of up to 50% of the variance in affective ratings. Moreover, inter-lexical and sublexical predictors account for a large portion of additional variance in the perceived general affective meaning. Together, the affective properties of all used textual features account for 43–70% of the variance in the affective ratings and still for 23–48% of the variance in the more abstract aesthetic ratings. In sum, our approach represents a novel method that successfully relates a prominent part of variance in perceived general affective meaning in this corpus of German poems to quantitative estimates of affective properties of textual components at the sublexical, lexical, and inter-lexical level.

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          At the heart of emotion, mood, and any other emotionally charged event are states experienced as simply feeling good or bad, energized or enervated. These states--called core affect--influence reflexes, perception, cognition, and behavior and are influenced by many causes internal and external, but people have no direct access to these causal connections. Core affect can therefore be experienced as free-floating (mood) or can be attributed to some cause (and thereby begin an emotional episode). These basic processes spawn a broad framework that includes perception of the core-affect-altering properties of stimuli, motives, empathy, emotional meta-experience, and affect versus emotion regulation; it accounts for prototypical emotional episodes, such as fear and anger, as core affect attributed to something plus various nonemotional processes.
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            Although aesthetic experiences are frequent in modern life, there is as of yet no scientifically comprehensive theory that explains what psychologically constitutes such experiences. These experiences are particularly interesting because of their hedonic properties and the possibility to provide self-rewarding cognitive operations. We shall explain why modern art's large number of individualized styles, innovativeness and conceptuality offer positive aesthetic experiences. Moreover, the challenge of art is mainly driven by a need for understanding. Cognitive challenges of both abstract art and other conceptual, complex and multidimensional stimuli require an extension of previous approaches to empirical aesthetics. We present an information-processing stage model of aesthetic processing. According to the model, aesthetic experiences involve five stages: perception, explicit classification, implicit classification, cognitive mastering and evaluation. The model differentiates between aesthetic emotion and aesthetic judgments as two types of output.
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                Author and article information

                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                11 January 2017
                : 7
                1Languages of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin Berlin, Germany
                2Department of Experimental and Neurocognitive Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin Berlin, Germany
                3Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics Frankfurt am Main, Germany
                4Dahlem Institute for Neuroimaging of Emotion, Freie Universität Berlin Berlin, Germany
                5Department of Cognitive, Social and Organizational Psychology, Universidad de La Laguna San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Spain
                Author notes

                Edited by: Cornelia Herbert, University of Ulm, Germany

                Reviewed by: Erich David Jarvis, Duke University, USA; Eric C. Fields, Tufts University, USA

                *Correspondence: Susann Ullrich susann_ullrich@

                This article was submitted to Language Sciences, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Copyright © 2017 Ullrich, Aryani, Kraxenberger, Jacobs and Conrad.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 9, Tables: 5, Equations: 1, References: 92, Pages: 19, Words: 13295
                Funded by: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft 10.13039/501100001659
                Original Research


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