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Cynthia Whissell

Cynthia Whissell

Sessional On-Campus (mo)
Faculty of Education and Health
Sessional Online
Faculty of Arts
Sessional On-Campus
Faculty of Arts
A-221, Arts Building


I was born in the Mediterranean at the end of WW II, and went to the US to pursue university studies. I wanted to study literature but ended up studying psychology. Then, I wanted to be a clinician but ended up being a statistician. The Rolling Stones had it right - "You don't always get what you want" but you do get what you need. I never wanted to work in the US permanently and was easily charmed away from there by an interview in Sudbury in February of 1969. After that interview, I can never claim that I did not know what northern winters were like. I married a Sudburian and my children are all Sudburians. I am a member of the congregation at Redeemer Lutheran church.

Teaching is not only my job but my calling. My current position involves teaching at Laurentian in the Psychology Department and in two interdisciplinary programs (Human Development and Human Studies), one of which involves literature.

Students make my job both exciting and rewarding. I love to see them come (when I teach the first year Intro course) and I love to see them go (when they graduate), because this means that they have accomplished something. By rough estimate, I have taught close to 10,000 different students in my years at Laurentian. I have taught my students' children, and, on occasion, their grandchildren. As jobs and lives go, it doesn't get much better than this. 2011-2012 is year 43 at LU and counting...


  • BSc Washington State University
  • MS Purdue University
  • PhD Purdue University


My research focus is on language and how language conveys emotions. I have developed two ways of quantifying or measuring the emotion in language.

The first way depends on words and on the emotional reactions that people have to words. I developed a tool to measure this called the Dictionary of Affect in Language.
The second way depends on sounds and the emotional reactions that people have to word sounds. I have developed a scoring system for the phonaesthetics of sounds in language.

Most of my publications in the last 20 years involve the application of one or the other of these techniques. For example, I have applied phonaethetic analysis to names and Dictionary analysis to works of literature.


  • LU Teaching Excellence Award