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Example I. Emotion Potential

This Figure shows the Emotion Potential (EP in standardized values) for the 11 chapters of Pippi Longstocking (Lindgren, 1950). The red line represents the mean value (0) allowing to see which chapters have above- or below-average EPs.

The EP estimates each chapter’s theoretical potential to evoke emotional responses in readers (e.g., joy, fear) which can be measured at different levels of observation, e.g. experiential (ratings; Lüdtke & Jacobs, 2015), behavioral (response times, eye tracking; Jacobs et al., 2016), or neuronal (brain activity; cf. Hsu et al., 2015).

The EP estimates are based on a recent machine learning assisted ACTA which learns to predict each word’s valence (i.e., to what extent it is positive or negative) and arousal (i.e., to what extent it is calming or arousing; cf. Jacobs, 2018).

It can be seen that the book sends its readers on an emotional roller-coaster, starting with an initial low EP then rising up to a peak in chapter 9 and falling back to a low EP in the final chapters.


Hsu, C. T., Jacobs, A. M., Citron, F., & Conrad, M. (2015). The emotion potential of words and passages in reading Harry Potter – An fMRI study. Brain and Language, 142, 96-114. https://doi.org

Jacobs, A. M. (2018). (Neuro-)Cognitive Poetics and Computational Stylistics. Scientific Study of Literature, 8:1, pp. 164-207. https://doi.org.

Jacobs AM, Hofmann MJ and Kinder A (2016) On Elementary Affective Decisions: To Like Or Not to Like, That Is the Question. Front. Psychol. 7:1836. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01836 www.frontiersin.org

Lindgren, A. (1950). Pippi Longstocking. The Viking Press.

Lüdtke J and Jacobs AM (2015) The emotion potential of simple sentences: additive or interactive effects of nouns and adjectives? Front. Psychol. 6:1137. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01137 www.frontiersin.org