Carita Paradis Joost van de Weijer Caroline Willners Magnus Lindgren

Evaluative polarity of antonyms

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This study investigates speakers' assessment of the evaluative polarity of the members of eight antonym pairs, e.g., fast-slow and warm-cold, that are not inherently evaluative, unlike antonyms such as good-bad, ugly-beautiful. The contentful structures foregrounded by fast-slow and warm-cold are speed and temperature, respectively, but the properties that they evoke may also be profiled against a dimension of positive and negative polarity. In this article we adapt the Implicit Association Test (IAT) to measure whether speakers in fact associate such antonym pairs with positivity and negativity, and if they do, which is positive and which is negative. The results of the experiments show clear and consistent polarity patterns across the antonym pairs under investigation, i.e. one of the members of a pair of antonyms is more readily associated with negativity and the other with positivity.


  • adjectives
  • Implicit Association Test
  • negative
  • opposite
  • positive
  • valence


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