The ORIGINAL Balanced Affective Word List Project
No longer in development - kept for historical purposes

By Greg Siegle 
San Diego State University / University of California, San Diego

This project was originated in 1994 to establish a list of words with normed emotional valences for use in psychology experiments. A number of researchers throughout the world had gone to great pains to establish the "normative" emotional valence or valences of words (e.g., "positive" or "negative"). By collecting these lists of normed words in a single place, I hoped to provide a corpus which will be of use to future psychology researchers.

Since that time, the The Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention (CSEA) has created such a large normed corpus of over 2000 words. It is described briefly at their Media Core website. Those interested can obtain the "Affective Norms for English Words" (ANEW) list from them directly. I have written a program to create lists of words balanced for valence, frequency, and word length from the ANEW list. If you are hoping to do a project using affective words I recommend you follow that link.

THIS PAGE REFLECTS THE ORIGINAL WORDLIST I created, before the ANEW list was around, in 1994. It does not reflect more recent work including information about the ANEW wordlist and a program that uses that list to create balanced wordlists. Rather, it reflects the original older project, and a program to use that list to generate affective word lists from it balanced for valence, word length and frequency.

Words for the original list were taken from:

Different contributors seem to have calculated word frequencies differently. That is, some used the frequency of any form of the word while others used just the frequency of the given form of the word, and still others used just the frequency of the word as a given part of speech. I haven't had time to standardize it all yet.

Getting the word list

Currently, the word list is in a very basic, and somewhat impovrished format. It consists of an ASCII file with 3 tab-delimited columns including: word_valence, length, and word frequency (according to the Francis and Kucera (1982) corpus).

Word valences are coded: 1=positive 2=negative 3=anxious 4=neutral

Click to obtain the word list

Contributing words

If you are interested in contributing a list of normed affectively valenced words to the list please mail or e-mail me the following: In return you get: You can e-mail me at:

A program which uses the original word list

This program generates word lists balanced for affective tone (positive, negative, & neutral, with optional inclusion of anxiety words too), as well as word frequency (according to the Francis and Kucera (1982) corpus) and word length.

To use the program just type "wordlist" followed by the total number of words you want. You can specify the word file the program should use by typing it after the number. If you want anxiety words too, type the word ANX after the word file. For example, the command:

wordlist 16 words.prn ANX

would generate a balanced list of 16 words including positive, negative, and neutral words. The resulting printout is of the form word valence length frequency.

Click to obtain the DOS executable program

 Click to obtain C++ source code.

Note: To use the program you MUST obtain the word list, and store it in the same directory with the program. If you have not yet obtained the word list, do it now: obtain the word list


I have put in under 2 hours writing this program. It's not a professional thing. It has some minor glitches (e.g., returning too many words for very low numbers of words in a list, not handling numbers of words that are not multiples of 3 or 4 gracefully, etc.). That will all be changed in future versions when I have some time. Feel free to edit it, distribute it, etc. but if you do, please include ALL the files in this directory. You can reach me with any comments or questions by e-mail at or by surface mail at: Greg Siegle, Biometrics Research 151R, 7180 Highland Dr., VA Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA, 15206.


Finally, the following copyright notice is begrudgingly included for the sake of beurocratic completeness. The copyright notice applies only to the wordlist program and not to the words.prn file which is entirely public domain. Copyright (c) 1994 by Greg Siegle and the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology Permission to use this software is granted subject to the following restrictions and understandings: 1) There is no warantee or statement that the operation of this software will be error free. Greg Siegle and the SDSU/UCSD JDP in Clinical Psychology are under no obligation to provide any services by way of maintainence, update or otherwise. 2) Any user of such software agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Greg Siegle and the SDSU/UCSD JDP in Clinical Psychology from all claims arising out of the use of this software or arising out of any accident, injury or damage and from all costs, counsel fees, and liabilities incurred in or about any such claim, action, or proceeding brought thereon 3) Users are requested but not required to inform Greg Siegle of noteworthy uses of this software
Comments or problems with this page can be mailed to Greg Siegle: