The MRC Psycholinguistic Database is a machine usable dictionary containing 150837 words with up to 26 linguistic and psycholinguistic attributes for each - psychological measures are recorded for only about 2500 words. The dictionary may be of use to researchers in psychology or linguistics to develop sets of experimental stimuli, or those in artificial intelligence and computer science who require psychological and linguistic descriptions of words.
Further details of the MRC Psycholinguistic Database are available in:
- The user manual to V2 in 1987
- The user manual from the V1 service in 1981
- Errors Identified in the on-line version
The MRC Psycholinguistic Database project in the early 1980's made various linguistic and psychology data sets more widely available to language and knowledge engineering researchers.
The project developed the database described on this page, and the Edinburgh Associative Thesaurus which is available elsewhere
The data sets can be downloaded for local use, although this requires software installation on a UNIX system. The recommended option is to use it online through one of the web interfaces from the menu above.
The MRC Psycholinguistic Database was the basis for the "Oxford Psycholinguistic Database" made available for the Apple Mackintosh from Oxford University Press in the early 1990's.
Citing the MRC Psycholinguistic Database
The reference below which should be cited in papers reporting studies where stimuli or data were derived from the MRC Psycholinguistic Database:
Wilson, M.D. (1988) The MRC Psycholinguistic Database: Machine Readable Dictionary, Version 2. Behavioural Research Methods, Instruments and Computers, 20(1), 6-11.
Coltheart, M (1981) The MRC Psycholinguistic Database. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 33A, 497-505.
Figure: The graph shows the citations to both of the above papers by year, as of September 2010.
The graph above shows that the MRC Psycholinguistic Database continues to be used to produce stimulus materials for experiments in language related disciplines. If you use the service as part of work reported in an academic research publication, please cite one of the above two papers, because the organisations which host the service need to be assured that the service continues to be used for research purposes in order to justify their support for it.
The source data of the MRC Psycholinguistic Database is available as a Microsoft Excel file which you can download in a zip archive.
Individual Psycholinguistic Measures
These are the source files of component parts of the MRC Psycholinguistic Database.
dataset (130 KBytes) from:
KJ Gilhooly and RH Logie (1980) Age of acquisition, imagery, concreteness, familiarity and ambiguity measures for 1944 words Behaviour Research Methods and Instrumentation 12, 395-427
- Word frequency
list (500 KBytes) from:
H Kucera and WN Francis (1967) Computational Analysis of Present-Day American English Providence, RI: Brown University Press.
- semantic word norms reprinted in 2008 from:
Toglia, M.P. and Battig, W.R. (1978). Handbook of Semantic Word Norms. New York: Erlbaum.
- Complete dataset reprinted in 2004 from
Pavio, A., Yuille, J.C. and Madigan, S.A. (1968). Concreteness, imagery and meaningfulness values for 925 words. Journal of Experimental Psychology Monograph Supplement, 76 (3, part 2).
Other Psycholinguistic Measures
Further psycholinguistic data not integrated into the MRC database is available from the following sources:
- Max Plank Institute for Psycholinguistics
- Word Frequency data in the British National Corpus - Adam Kilgarriff
- Word Frequency data in the British National Corpus - Leech, Rayson, Wilson
- Supplemental Material to articles published in Behavioural Research Methods, including many psychological data sets for words
- The Bristol Norms for Age of Acquisition, Imageability and Familiarity
- WordNet at Princeton