Journal of Psycholinguistic Research

, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 571-580

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

The Emotional Lexicon of Individuals Diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder

  • Barbara GawdaAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Maria Curie-Sklodowska University Email author 


This study investigated the specific emotional lexicons in narratives created by persons diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) to test the hypothesis that individuals with ASPD exhibit deficiencies in emotional language. Study participants consisted of 60 prison inmates with ASPD, 40 prison inmates without ASPD, and 60 men without antisocial tendencies who described situations involving love, hate and anxiety depicted by photographs. The lexical choices made in the narratives were analyzed, and a comparison of the three groups revealed differences between the emotional narratives of inmates with ASPD, inmates without ASPD, and the control group. Although the narratives of the individuals with ASPD included more words describing emotions and higher levels of emotional intensity, the valence of these words was inappropriate. The linguistic characteristics of these narratives were associated with high levels of psychopathy and low emotional reactivity.


Antisocial personality disorder Anxiety Hate Emotional lexicon Love