Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 2, pp 273–294 | Cite as

Emotionality of Turkish language and primary adaptation of affective English norms for Turkish

  • Mastaneh Torkamani-AzarEmail author
  • Sumeyra Demir Kanik
  • Ayse Tuba Vardan
  • Cagla Aydin
  • Mujdat CetinEmail author


Emotional load assessment of the written words has gained considerable interest in psycholinguistics, semantics, and analysis of psychophysiological and electrophysiological correlates of emotional processing. Considering the lack of a publicly available database with affective ratings of contemporary verbal stimuli obtained from native Turkish speakers, we present the affective norms for two datasets of Turkish words carefully adapted from the Affective Norms for English Words (ANEW) database. The valence and arousal ratings are obtained from 61 college-aged participants for 127 highly arousing, emotionally-loaded words in the Adapted Turkish Affective List (ATAL). The ATAL ratings show a tendency of classifying fewer words as positive compared to the original list of stimuli, significantly higher arousal levels for positively rated Turkish stimuli compared to the negative and neutral words, and more congruence in arousal levels of positively exciting words. For the medium to high arousing 508 words in the Expanded Turkish Affective List (ETAL) that cover the whole 9-point spectrum of the valence dimension, 136 Turkish respondents from a wider age, education, and occupation background show higher excitability towards highly unpleasant words. Strong cross-linguistic correlations of + 0.968 between the valence ratings of ANEW and ATAL and + 0.878 for ANEW and ETAL demonstrate the ease of transferring and perceiving the valence levels across English and Turkish. The medium correlation of roughly + 0.450 between the English and Turkish arousal ratings account for lower excitation levels perceived by the native Turkish speakers and indicate the arousal dimension is similar to familiarity and originality in exhibiting more variations between different cultures. These findings demonstrate that this expanded database of partial affective normative ratings can be used as the ground truth for emotional and neurocognitive assessments, and that the presented methodology can be utilized for developing a comprehensive Turkish affective lexicon. The utilized word selection criteria also enable a cross-cultural analysis of adapted words in Turkish and other languages. Detailed normative ratings of this Turkish adaptation are included in the supplementary materials.


Emotions Valence Arousal ANEW Affective norms Affective ratings Turkish language SAM Linguistic adaptation 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Achille Pasqualotto from the Psychology Program at Sabanci University for his helpful suggestions regarding the web-based survey design and for arranging his students’ participation in the experiments. The authors also extend their gratitude to all the participants and researchers in Turkey and abroad who enthusiastically devoted their time to attend the data collection sessions, and to Dr. Huseyin Ozkan for sharing his comments on the initial version of this manuscript. The first author also thanks Mr. Mostafa Mehdipour Ghazi for his inspiring discussions on the role of native and acquired languages in emotional perception.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interests

The authors declare that there is no conflict of interest regarding the publication of this article.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all the participants included in the study.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Supplementary material

12144_2018_119_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (111 kb)
(XLSX 110 KB)


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Signal Processing and Information Systems Laboratory, Faculty of Engineering and Natural SciencesSabanci UniversityTuzlaTurkey
  2. 2.Sheldon B. Lubar School of BusinessUniversity of Wisconsin-MilwaukeeMilwaukeeUSA
  3. 3.Psychology Program, Faculty of Arts and Social SciencesSabanci UniversityIstanbulTurkey
  4. 4.Department of Electrical and Computer EngineeringUniversity of RochesterRochesterUSA

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