The A(ffective) B(ehavioral) C(ognitive) of Taboo Words in Natural Language: The Relationship Between Taboo Words’ Intensity and Frequency

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We investigated the relationship between the affective component (A: the level of offensiveness/intensity) and the behavioral component (B: the frequency of usage) of taboo words that are part of an individual’s natural language (C: the cognitive component). In Study 1, 900 US-residents generated the 10 most common taboo words they use in their daily lives (C). In Study 2, 1000 US-residents were presented with the 30 most common taboo words (C) from Study 1 and asked to rate how offensive they perceived the words (A) and how often they used these words (B). This relationship was controlled for self-reported trait affectivity. We found a slight change in which taboo words people use in everyday life. The results suggest that the level of offensiveness of taboo words (A) predicts the usage of the words (B) that are part of a person’s natural language (C): the ABC-hypothesis of taboo words.


Enheter & grupper
Externa organisationer
  • Blekinge Centre of competence
  • Göteborgs universitet
  • Lund University

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ) – OBLIGATORISK

  • Psykologi


  • ABC-Hypothesis of Taboo Words, Affectivity, Frequency, Taboo Words, Intensity
Sidor (från-till)306-320
TidskriftJournal of Language and Social Psychology
Utgåva nummer3
StatusPublished - 2017
Peer review utfördJa