In contrast to noun categories, little is known about the graded structure of adjective categories. In this study, we investigated whether adjective categories show a similar graded structure and what determines this structure. The results show that adjective categories like nouns exhibit a reliable graded structure. Similar to nouns, we investigated whether similarity is the main determinant of the graded structure. We derived a low-dimensional similarity representation for adjective categories and found that valence differences in adjectives constitute an important organising principle in this similarity space. Valence was not implicated in the categories’ graded structure, however. A formal similarity-based model using exemplars accounted for the graded structure by effectively discarding the valence differences between adjectives in the similarity representation through dimensional weighting. Our results generalise similarity-based accounts of graded structure and highlight a closely knit relationship between adjectives and nouns on a representational level.

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Language and Cognitive Processes
Department of Psychology

De Deyne, S., Voorspoels, W, Verheyen, S, Navarro, D., & Storms, G. (2014). Accounting for graded structure in adjective categories with valence-based opposition relationships. Language and Cognitive Processes, 29(5), 568–583. doi:10.1080/01690965.2013.794294