The Grievance Dictionary: Understanding threatening language use

Isabelle van der Vegt*, Maximilian Mozes, Bennett Kleinberg, Paul Gill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
261 Downloads (Pure)


This paper introduces the Grievance Dictionary, a psycholinguistic dictionary that can be used to automatically understand language use in the context of grievance-fueled violence threat assessment. We describe the development of the dictionary, which was informed by suggestions from experienced threat assessment practitioners. These suggestions and subsequent human and computational word list generation resulted in a dictionary of 20,502 words annotated by 2318 participants. The dictionary was validated by applying it to texts written by violent and non-violent individuals, showing strong evidence for a difference between populations in several dictionary categories. Further classification tasks showed promising performance, but future improvements are still needed. Finally, we provide instructions and suggestions for the use of the Grievance Dictionary by security professionals and (violence) researchers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2105-2119
JournalBehavior Research Methods
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Grievances
  • LIWC
  • Language
  • Psycholinguistic dictionary
  • Threat assessment
  • Violence


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