Correlations between pupil size and the semantic differential: An experimental paradigm and pilot study


Both changes in pupil size and ratings on the three dimensions of the semantic differential were obtained in response to 36 stimuli. Correlations were computed across stimuli for each subject. These within-subject correlations between changes in pupil size and the scales of the semantic differential indicated a positive relationship between pupil size and the “potency” scale (strong-weak; large-small; heavy-light) of the semantic differential. Contrary to an extrapolation of Hess’ discussions, there is no evidence that pupil size is positively related to the evaluative (good-bad) dimension of meaning. No results were obtained for verbal, attitude-statement stimuli.


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Correspondence to Barry E. Collins.

Additional information

This research was supported by National Science Foundation grant NSF GS 492 and GS 1194 to the senior author. Thanks are extended to William Kessen who courteously looked the other way while we moonlighted his facilities.

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Collins, B.E., Ellsworth, P.C. & Helmreich, R.L. Correlations between pupil size and the semantic differential: An experimental paradigm and pilot study. Psychon Sci 9, 627–628 (1967).

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  • Pupil Size
  • Experimental Stimulus
  • Pictorial Stimulus
  • Semantic Differential
  • Semantic Differential Scale