Sverker Sikström


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Personlig profil


Biases in communication of severity of violence

Violence is commonly reported in media and social interaction, but do we really know how sever the violence is? We studied biases in communication by letting people write self experienced events of violence in intimate relation and rate the severity. These text were read and rated by other participants. By comparing self experienced and communicated severity ratings we identified biases, or errors in communication, where the severity of physical violence is exaggerated, whereas psychological vioelence is underestimaged. Futhermore, both psychological and physical violence towards male victimes underestimated. 

Women have more power than men

We questioned the idea that men have more power than women, at least in the areas that we find most importan (Sikström et al 2020). Participants were asked rate areas they found most important in life and how much power they had in these are areas. The results showed that altough men had more in public domain, women had more power in the private domain that both men and women found to be more important the the public domain. Furthermore, when all domains were weighed with how important they were, no gender differences were found power.  

Quantitative measures mental states with language  analysed by AI improves validity compared to rating scales

The most important source of information of other states of mind is the semantic content of language. However, previous quantitative research has largely ignored this information possibly because it is difficult to quantify. I have been fascinated by the possibility quantifying semantics by computational modeling of human learning of semantic. By applying these models to large text corpora, it is possible to quantify the semantic content of all words in a language. I am applying this method to diagnosis of mental health. In earlier studies i have also applied similiar methods to eyewitness memory, evaluation and evolution of social groups, psychotherapy, etc.

Spin off companies: WordDiagnostics

Based on my research on quantifcation of langauge i have founded (2018), that assess depression and anxity from text written by clients, that are analysed with natural language processing and machine learning . Earlier startsup are, a which focused on text analysis of news media (2007-2105). I have developed methods for stastistical analysis of texts data. You can conduct these analysis on the following online platform: 

"Are you a psychopath? Your Facebook status can tell" Interview in RT America News on Youtube

Computational modeling of memory

The brain consists of a large number of cells, or processing units, which together forms cognitive functioning as memory and consciousness. My research has focused on computational models aimed at understanding memory and cognition in the brain. Several of these models are based on neural network theories. I have published computational models on forgetting, the mirror effect, reaction times, serial position effect, frequency effects, successive tests, etc related to episodic and semantic memory.

Noise improves cognitive performance in ADHD

Irrelevant stimuli is typically seen as distractive and removes attention from the relevant task. We have shown that irrelevant stimuli, in form of auditative noise, can actually improve cognitive performance, and that this effect is particular strong for people with poor attentive skills.

Smartnoise iPhone App

Sverkers Christmas message from the Lund university christmas calender 2013 on Youtube

Choice blindness

That people make every-day choice based on accessible intentions is often taken for granted, however, our research indicates that this may not be the case. We let subject choice between which of two faces they found most attractive, and immediately asked they to motivate their choice. Though “magical” trick we replaced the face to that they were actually given the faces they did not choose. Subjects failed to detect this mismatch between their own choice and the outcome of their choose, and were willing to make elaborated motivations of their motivations. These results questions whether people have access to their underlying reason for their choices.

"Valblindhet - Så lätt lurar vi oss själva" -Youtube

Spin-off company: Saplo

Based on my research on human models of semantic, I and Mattias Tyrberg started Saplo – a company that imitates humans judgment of texts. The company now has six full time workeras and have solved product to Sydsvenskan and EPiSERVER. Product includes tagging, matching, sentiment analysis, topics, etc. Saplo were voted the one of the best 20 startup IT companies in Europe and have received VINNOVA grants. For more information see The webpage shows which person are the most positively or negatively described this day. 



PhD Students

Oscar Kjell (2018). Replacing numerical scales with statistical semantics applied to Harmony and happiness

Katarin Lundberg (2014-present). Measuring anxiety and deppresion with statistical semantics. 

Kristina Karlsson (2018). Autobiograpical Multimodal memories analysed by statistical semantics.

Marie Gustavsson (2015). Evolution and Evolution of Social Groups

Petter Johansson (2006). Choice blindness

Göran Söderlund (2007). Noise Improves Cognitive Performance in Children with Low Dopamine Levels

Johan Hellman (2008-2013) "Prior Knowledge and Recognition Memory – a ComputationalModeling Approach"

Previous and current positions 

  • 2011- Full Professor in Cognitive Psychology, Lund university
  • 2010-11 Full Professor in Psychology, Linnuniversitet
  • 2008-10 Guest researcher, KTH
  • 2003-08 Associate professor (research position), Lund University
  • 2000-03 Assistant professor (research and teaching), Stockholm University
  • 1998-00 Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Toronto, with Ben Murdock
  • 1996-97 Research Position, University of Umeå
  • 1993-96 Graduate position, University of Umeå, supervisor Lars-Göran Nilsson
  • 1992-93 Research assistant, Department of Psychology, Umeå
  • 1988-94 International research and work experience (3- to 4- month stays)
    in Prague (1987),
    Ljubljana (1989),
    San Diego (1991) and
    London, City University with John Gardiner (1994)
  • 1988-92 Computer consultant, Sverker Soft Service, 50% part time
  • 1987 Computer support, City of Haninge, Department of Roads.


  • 2003 Docent (associate professor)
  • 1992-96 Ph.D. Psychology, 160p, University of Umeå
  • 1989-92 Bachelor psychology 120p (psykologprogrammet), University of Uppsala
  • 1986-89 Business economics 20p,
    National economy 20p,
    Law 10p,
    Psychology, cognition and perception, 50p University of Uppsala
  • 1984-90 Master of Science in Engineering Physics (Teknisk Fysik), 180p, Uppsala


  • 2018-21           Vinnova. Förbättrad diagnostisering av mental hälsa med beskrivande ord och artificiell intelligens. (2018-02007). 3294 tkr.


    2018-21           Kamprad Foundation. Förbättrad diagnostik för psykisk ohälsa hos äldre: implementering av beslutsstöd baserat på beskrivande ord och artificiell intelligens, Sverker Sikström, Lunds universitet, 4 300 000 kronor, ref # 20180281


    2018-21           The Swedish Research Council: Voting behavior and statistical semantics, 4.2 MSEK. Annika Freden & Sverker Sikström (2017-02941)


    2018-21          The Swedish Research Council: Språkets betydelse för jämställdhet på jobbet (2017-00418). 3.2 MSEK. Anna Lindqvist, Emma Bäck, Sverker Sikström & Marie Gustafsson-Seden.


    2015-19           The Swedish Research Council: The Advantages of Analysing Language: Developing Language-Based Methods for Measuring and Describing Psychological Constructs, 3 MSEK (2015-01229). Danilo Garcia & Sverker Sikström


    2012-15        Stiftelsen Marcus och Amalia Wallenbergs Minnesfond. “Noise as a tool to improve school performance in inattentive schoolchildren”, 3 miljoner. Sverker Sikström, Göran Söderlund.


    2010-11 Stockholm Brain Institute: Semantic Spaces 500 000 Skr.
  • 2008-11 ESF: Vagueness, Approximation, and Granularity. Forskningsledare Peter Gärdenfors och Sverker Sikström. 3 600 000 skr.
  • 2009-11 VR:Hum&Sam ”Semantic Spapces in Psychology”. 1 400 000 Skr.
  • 2006-08 VR:Hum&Sam ”Neurala nätverksmodeller av minne”. 1 300 000 Skr.
  • 2003-05 VR: Hum&Sam ”Neurala nätverksmodeller av minne”. 969 000 Skr.
  • 2000-02 HSFR Minnesmodeller 780 000 Skr.
  • 1998-00 Post-doc grant from the Swedish Research council


”Patent-pending” (61/111031) on the ”Method and system for analyzing text”.

”Evaluating Trueness of Eyewitness Statements using Semantic Spaces” (US 61/216, 858).


Downloading Models

A Model for Stochastic Drift in Memory Strength to Account for Judgments of Learning. Psychological Review, 112(4), 932-950.
Visual Basic implantation of the JOLLY model (New window)

Sikström, S. & Söderlund, G. (2007). Stimulus Dependent Dopamine Release in ADHD. In press Psychological Review (October issue 2007).
 Excel-implementation of the MBA model (New window)

Semantic: Scientific Software to investigating Semantic Representations
LSALAB is a software for working with semantic spaces.

It includes visual plotting of semantic relations, animation, ttest of semantic relations, downloading corpuses, etc.

Selected Media attention

Matti & Petter Kallioinen ‘s ‘Memo i Tankevärlden’
Memo i tankevärlden

Choice Blindness

P1 Forum interview about Choice Blindness (Swedish) (New window) LÄNK

P4 Boulevard interview about Choice Blindness (Swedish) (New window) LÄNK

Choice Blindness at Lund university

Expertis relaterad till FN:s globala mål

2015 godkände FN:s medlemsstater 17 Globala mål för en hållbar utveckling, för att utrota fattigdomen, skydda planeten och garantera välstånd för alla. Den här personens arbete relaterar till följande Globala mål:

  • SDG 3 – God hälsa och välbefinnande
  • SDG 5 – Jämställdhet
  • SDG 16 – Fredliga och inkluderande samhällen


Utforska forskningsämnen där Sverker Sikström är aktiv. Dessa ämnesetiketter kommer från personens arbeten. Tillsammans bildar de ett unikt fingeravtryck.
  • 1 Liknande profiler

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