Negative content in auditory verbal hallucinations: a natural language processing approach

Janna de Boer*, Hugo Corona Hernández, Frank Gerritse, Sanne Brederoo, Frank Wijnen, I. E. C. Sommer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
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Introduction Negative content of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) is a strong predictor of distress and impairment. This paper quantifies emotional voice-content in order to explore both subjective (i.e. perceived) and objectively (i.e. linguistic sentiment) measured negativity and investigates associations with distress. Methods Clinical and non-clinical participants with frequent AVH (n = 40) repeated and recorded their AVH verbatim directly upon hearing. The AVH were analyzed for emotional valence using Pattern, a rule-based sentiment analyzer for Dutch. The AVH of the clinical individuals were compared to those of non-clinical voice-hearers on emotional valence and associated with experienced distress. Results The mean objective valence of AVH in patients was significantly more negative than those of non-clinical voice-hearers. In the clinical individuals a larger proportion of the voice-utterances was negative (34.7% versus 18.4%) in objective valence. The linguistic valence of the AVH showed a significant, strong association with the perceived negativity, amount of distress and disruption of life, but not with the intensity of distress. Conclusions Our results indicate that AVH of patients have a more negative linguistic content than those of non-clinical voice-hearers, which is associated with the experienced distress. Thus, patients not only perceive their voices as more negative, objective analyses confirm this.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalCognitive Neuropsychiatry
Early online date18-Jun-2021
Publication statusPublished - 21-Jun-2021


  • hallucinations
  • sentiment analysis
  • language
  • schizophrenia
  • psychosis

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