Author Note

G. Scott Acton, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University.

An earlier version of this article was presented at the August 1995 meeting of the American Psychological Association in New York as part of a symposium, "The Nature of Language." Work on this article was supported in part by a National Science Foundation fellowship to G. Scott Acton. I would like to thank Leonard M. Horowitz, David L. Hull, William Revelle, and Stephen C. Yanchar for their thoughtful commentary on earlier versions of the article.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to G. Scott Acton, Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, 2029 Sheridan Road, Evanston, Illinois 60208-2710.

This prepublication version of the article is made available for instructional use only. Copyright for the final version resides with The Institute of Mind and Behavior, Inc. No citations should be made to this on-line version--all citations should be to the printed version: Acton, G. S. (1998). Classification of psychopathology: The nature of language. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 19, 243-256.


  1. This problem extends beyond the realm of psychopathology. Type nouns that refer to people tend to be deprecatory (Wierzbicka, 1986). Therefore, people generally dislike being described using type nouns. For example, one might hear, "My friend is not a dimwit, he is just a little slow!" Although negative type nouns ("jerk," "creep") greatly outnumber the positive ("angel," "saint"), both positive and negative adjectives exist in abundance. Research has been conducted on the descriptive and evaluative aspects of personality-relevant adjectives in English and German (Saucier, Ostendorf, and Peabody, 1998).

  2. I would like to thank David L. Hull for suggesting this example.

  3. I would like to thank Leonard M. Horowitz for suggesting this example.

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