Positive-negative asymmetry in normative data



Three samples, consisting of 200 traits, 200 nouns and 200 verbs taken from the Toglia et al. (1978) verbal norms, were analysed for evidence of positive-negative asymmetry. Within each sample the items were ordered on a general positive-negative index, and a systematic series of dichotomizations was carried out, ranging from S per cent negative to 95 per cent negative. It was found that the partial correlation of pleasingness with the positive-negative dichotomization increased as a linear function of the informational complexity of the negative class of words, for all three word types. The partial correlation of familiarity increased as a similar function of the positive class of words, but only for traits. The results are discussed in terms of Peeters and Czapinski's (1990) positive-negative asymmetry model, and Scherer's (1984) component model of emotion.