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Front Psychol. 2014 Nov 3;5:1242. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01242. eCollection 2014.

Being moved: linguistic representation and conceptual structure.

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Centre for General Linguistics (ZAS) Berlin, Germany ; Cluster of Excellence 'Languages of Emotion', Freie Universität Berlin, Germany.
Cluster of Excellence 'Languages of Emotion', Freie Universität Berlin, Germany ; Department of Language and Literature, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
Cluster of Excellence 'Languages of Emotion', Freie Universität Berlin, Germany ; Helmut Schmidt University/University of the Federal Armed Forces, Experimental Psychology Unit Hamburg, Germany.


This study explored the organization of the semantic field and the conceptual structure of moving experiences by investigating German-language expressions referring to the emotional state of being moved. We used present and past participles of eight psychological verbs as primes in a free word-association task, as these grammatical forms place their conceptual focus on the eliciting situation and on the felt emotional state, respectively. By applying a taxonomy of basic knowledge types and computing the Cognitive Salience Index, we identified joy and sadness as key emotional ingredients of being moved, and significant life events and art experiences as main elicitors of this emotional state. Metric multidimensional scaling analyses of the semantic field revealed that the core terms designate a cluster of emotional states characterized by low degrees of arousal and slightly positive valence, the latter due to a nearly balanced representation of positive and negative elements in the conceptual structure of being moved.


being moved; emotion concepts; free word association; linguistic representation; prosocial feelings

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