Studying Emotive Effects in Poetry by Quantifying Open-Ended Impressions

Chen Gafni*, Reuven Tsur

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Poems, as aesthetic objects, generate a subjective experience, which can be different for different readers. In this paper, we propose a method to quantify these subjective experiences. We gave participants three parallel excerpts and asked them to describe, in free text, the perceived emotive qualities of these excerpts. The descriptions were analysed quantitatively according to the dimensions of the Valence-Arousal-Dominance model of emotion. With the help of additional rating tasks and a structural theory of phonetic symbolism, we attribute the perceived emotive qualities to an interaction between the meaning of words, patterns of alliteration, and metric deviation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-242
Number of pages27
JournalEmpirical Studies of the Arts
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2021


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation228/11


    • Sound symbolism
    • aesthetics
    • cognitive poetics
    • dimensional models of emotion
    • reader’s response
    • sound iconicity


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