Expressing and Describing Surprise
  • ISSN 1877-9751
  • E-ISSN: 1877-976X


This paper analyses surprise in the framework of the GRID paradigm as part of a research project on the meaning of emotion words across languages and cultures. Based on psychological component theories of emotion, an online instrument was designed to rate the meaning of 24 emotion terms on 142 features of emotion. Data was collected for 23 languages in 27 countries. The mean rates within and across languages offer a semantic profile of the emotion terms. Results are presented on the meaning of “surprise” across languages and in English and French. The data also indicate four dimensions are necessary to describe the emotion space: valence, power, arousal and novelty. Novelty captures variation in suddenness and expectedness and differentiates surprise from other emotions, as well as types of emotion within a family, revealing itself as a relevant aspect of emotion universally encoded in our affective lexicons.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): cross-cultural semantic profile; English; French; GRID; novelty dimension; surprise
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