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Vocabulary richness and thematic concentration in internet fetish fantasies and literary short stories

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/2009
Issue number2
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)97-107
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper applies recent developments in quantitative linguistics to a key theoretical question from sexology, namely: Is fetishism fundamentally a stereotypical or a creative phenomenon? If it is stereotypical and repetitive, then it can be hypothesized that narratives of fetish fantasies will demonstrate a low degree of vocabulary richness and a high degree of thematic concentration. To test these hypotheses, the present study compares two sets of online fetish fantasy stories (n = 11) with a control sample of short stories by an established literary author, D.H. Lawrence (n = 10), using the measures of vocabulary richness and thematic concentration proposed by Popescu & Altmann (2006) and Popescu, Best & Altmann (2007). The results show that one set of fetish fantasies has a lower degree of vocabulary richness than the control sample, but the other set does not. No significant difference is detected between the three samples with regard to thematic concentration. Overall, the fetish fantasies seem to differ from the control texts only in so far as at least one fetish-related word appears amongst the thematic words for each story. It seems likely that any other quantitative stylistic variations in fetish fantasies are not connected with the phenomenon of fetishism itself. However, further work could usefully investigate the question with regard to text-linguistic features.