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Imageability ratings across languages

Lookup NU author(s): Professor David Howard



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


© 2017 Psychonomic Society, Inc. Imageability is a psycholinguistic variable that indicates how well a word gives rise to a mental image or sensory experience. Imageability ratings are used extensively in psycholinguistic, neuropsychological, and aphasiological studies. However, little formal knowledge exists about whether and how these ratings are associated between and within languages. Fifteen imageability databases were cross-correlated using nonparametric statistics. Some of these corresponded to unpublished data collected within a European research network—the Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists (COST IS1208). All but four of the correlations were significant. The average strength of the correlations (rho = .68) and the variance explained (R2 = 46%) were moderate. This implies that factors other than imageability may explain 54% of the results. Imageability ratings often correlate across languages. Different possibly interacting factors may explain the moderate strength and variance explained in the correlations: (1) linguistic and cultural factors; (2) intrinsic differences between the databases; (3) range effects; (4) small numbers of words in each database, equivalent words, and participants; and (5) mean age of the participants. The results suggest that imageability ratings may be used cross-linguistically. However, further understanding of the factors explaining the variance in the correlations will be needed before research and practical recommendations can be made.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Rofes A, Zakariás L, Ceder K, Lind M, Johansson MB, de Aguiar V, Bjekić J, Fyndanis V, Gavarró A, Simonsen HG, Sacristán CH, Kambanaros M, Kraljević JK, Martínez-Ferreiro S, Mavis I, Orellana CM, Sör I, Lukács A, Tunçer M, Vuksanović J, Ibarrola AM, Pourquie M, Varlokosta S, Howard D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Behavior Research Methods

Year: 2018

Volume: 50

Issue: 3

Pages: 1187-1197

Print publication date: 01/06/2018

Online publication date: 13/07/2017

Acceptance date: 02/04/2016

Date deposited: 29/09/2017

ISSN (print): 1554-351X

ISSN (electronic): 1554-3528

Publisher: Springer New York LLC


DOI: 10.3758/s13428-017-0936-0


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