The big two dictionaries: Capturing agency and communion in natural language

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Four studies developed and validated two dictionaries to capture agentic and communal expressions in natural language. Their development followed the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) approach (Study 1) and we tested their validity with frequency-based analyses and semantic similarity measures. The newly developed Agency and Communion dictionaries were aligned with LIWC categories related to agency and communion (Study 2), and corresponded with subjective ratings (Study 3), confirming their convergent validity. Very low or absent correspondence between proposed dictionaries and unrelated LIWC categories demonstrated their discriminant validity (Study 2). Finally, we applied both dictionaries to language used in advertisements. In correspondence to gender stereotypes, male-dominated jobs were advertised with more agentic than communal words, and female-dominated jobs with more communal than agentic words (Study 4). Both dictionaries represent reliable tools for quantifying agentic and communal content in natural language, and will improve and facilitate future research on agency and communion.


  • Agnieszka Pietraszkiewicz
  • Magdalena Formanowicz
  • Marie Gustafsson Sendén
  • Ryan L. Boyd
  • Sverker Sikström
  • Sabine Sczesny
External organisations
  • University of Bern
  • Stockholm University
  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Södertörn University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Psychology (excluding Applied Psychology)


  • agency, Big Two, communion, computerized text analysis, Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count, measurement
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-887
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date2018 Nov 29
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Publication categoryResearch