Project members:

Sverker Sikström, Peter Gärdenfors, Rasmus Bååth, Birgitta Sahlen, Simone Löhndorf, Kristina Hansson, Richard Andersson, Farhan Sarwar, Mikael Roll, Frida Mårtensson,

Aim of project/main objective/main hypothesis:

The aim of the project is to utilize methods that quantify the semantic content of words/sentences and to use this quantification to analysis verbal/text data from subjects. The main hypothesis is that verbal data can be quantified so that statistical test can be used in a similar way as it typically done on other quantitative data.

Why is this project interesting?

Most quantitative research in behavioral science is made on quantitative data based on scales reported by subjects, whereas verbal/text data is often ignored presumable due to difficulties in quantifying these data. This project is interesting because it aims at developing and applying methods that allows quantification of text data, which typically is not done in the current literature.

Potential applications (diagnostic tools, methods for other research areas, for society):

Example of applications: Diagnostic aphasia (see 10), diagnostic SLI (see 10), measuring semantic maturity (see 10), detecting lies (see 10), detecting correct/incorrect statements (see 10), predicting future volatility of stocks (see 10). A spin of company Saplo (see is also commercializing applications of: extracting entities from text, finding similar articles, predicting numbers from text.

Publications :


a. Roll, M, Mårtensson F., Sikström S., Apt P., Arnling-Bååth, R., Horne M. (2011). Atypical Associations to Abstract Words in Broca’s Aphasia, in press Cortex

b. Arvidsson, D. Werbart, A., Sikström, S. (2011). Changes in object representations measured by a semantic space method. Psychotheraphy Research.

c. Willander, E., Sikström, S. “What is Sacred in a Space of Numbers? in Woodhead, Linda ed. Innovative Methods in  the Study of Religion, Oxford University Press.


d. Garcia, D, Sikström, S. Quantifying the Semantic Representations of Adolescents’

Memories of Positive and Negative Life Events. Submitted to Journal of Happiness.

e. Sikström, S., Sawar, F. Statistic of Semantics (revision in Psychological Methods).

f. Semantic Linguistic Maturity (SELMA). Hansson, K, Sahlen, B, Bååth, R., Sikström, S.

g. Gustafsson, M., Lindholm, T. Sikström, S. (submitted to European Journal of Social Psychology). Selection Bias as Reflected by Choice of Words – The Evaluations of I and We Differ between Communication Contexts, but They are always Worse”


h. Karlsson, K, Sikström, S. Willander, J, (to be submitted). The semantic representation of event information depends on the cue-modality: The organization and selection of event information revisited.

i. Sarwar, F, Sikström, S, Allwood C-M, and Ker Å-I. Predicting correctness of eyewitness statements using semantic evaluation method- (SEM)

j. Asgharian H, Sikström S. Predicting Stock Price Volatility by Semantic Content in Media

g. Gusfasson, M., Sikström, S. Communicating values by associating personal pronouns and evaluative contexts in media news articles

h. Sikström, S., Kallioinen, P. (submitted). Exploring the high dimensional semantic space in the brain.

Comments on progress of articles to be submitted: h (expected to be submitted very soon, janary 2012), i (slow progress due to Sawar’s thesis, expected submission spring 2012), j (completed writing, but we are awaiting new analysis to arrive, submission in the spring), g (submission very soon, January 2012), h (extremely slow write-up due to slow work of collaborator, uncertain submission).

Conferences, workshops, lectures, invited talks:

A symposium on Quantitative Semantics were held on November 18, with the following schedule:

Collaborations within CCL, actual and potential. Who could benefit from the collaboration?

The following projects are clearly within the CCL community (see listed publications above): a, f. However, the following project should be (i.e. are fully conducted within LU), but are not formally, within the CCL e, i, j, h.

Collaborations outside of CCL

The following projects are partially located outside (in collaboration with other universities) the CCL-community: b, c, d, g.

Optional questions:

What general research problem would you like to attack in five years from now? Which will be the hot topics in your field in five years from now? How could CCL anticipate research on these questions?

We are anticipating that within five years the quantification of semantic can be applied in “big-data” science, so that semantic phenomena can be studied in global scale through internet data. The CCL environment could be an essential player on this arena given that this area is give priority.

We’re upgrading and updating the Humanities laboratory. What is on your personal wishlist?

I think it would be good if I held a PhD course in Quantitative Semantic at the Humanities laboratory.