The Effect of Noun Phrase Grammar on the Affective Meaning of Social Identity Concepts
Keywords:affective control theory, affective sentiments, determiners, noun phrase grammar, social identities
We examine the influences of determiners (a/an, the, and all) and grammatical number (singular or plural) on the affective meaning of social identity concepts. Some linguistic evidence suggests that changes in the grammatical form of a noun phrase may shift its affective meaning, while other research highlights the importance of context for such shifts. We conceptualize and measure affective meaning in terms of evaluation (goodness), potency, and activity drawn from research in affect control theory (ACT), a social psychological theory of culture and language. In two experiments, participants rate 28 social identity concepts, which are either count or collective nouns, presented in one of five grammatical forms. In congruence with ACT, the data support that the bulk of a concept’s affective meaning is carried by the noun itself, rather than by the grammatical features of the noun phrase in which the concept is expressed.
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