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Title: Quantifying the psychological properties of words
Author: Engelthaler, Tomas
ISNI:       0000 0004 8509 9854
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the psychological properties of words – the idea that words carry links to additional information beyond their dictionary meaning. It does so by presenting three distinct publications and an applied project, the Macroscope. The published research respectively covers: the modelling of language networks to explain lexical growth; the use of high dimensional vector representations of words to discuss language learning; and the collection of a normative dataset of single word humour ratings. The first publication outlines the use of network science in psycholinguistics. The methodology is discussed, providing clear guidelines on the application of networks when answering psychologically motivated questions. A selection of psychological studies is presented as a demonstration of use cases for networks in cognitive psychology. The second publication uses referent feature norms to represent words in a high dimensional vector space. A correlative link between referent distinctiveness and age of acquisition is proposed. The shape bias literature (the idea that children only pay attention to the shape of objects early on) is evaluated in relation to the findings. The third publication collects and shares a normative dataset of single word humour ratings. Descriptive properties of the dataset are outlined and the potential future use in the field of humour is discussed. Finally, the thesis presents the Macroscope, a collaborative project put together with Li Ying. The Macroscope is an online platform, allowing for easy analysis of the psychological properties of target words. The platform is showcased, and its full functionality is presented, including visualisation examples. Overall, the thesis aims to give researchers all that’s necessary to start working with psychological properties of words – the understanding of network science in psycholinguistics, high dimensional vector spaces, normative datasets and the applied use of all the above through the Macroscope.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology ; P Philology. Linguistics