Associative relation

Associative relation is a relation which is defined psychologically: that (some) people associate concepts (A is mentally associated with B by somebody). Often are associative relations just unspecified relations. In thesauri are antonyms, for example, usually not specified but may be listed, along with terms representing other kinds of relations, under "related terms".


Word association is a technique developed about 1900 within psychology by Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung to reveal "intellectual and emotional deficiencies" of a person. (See also Young, 1973-74).



 (from Michel, 1997)

Combined ideas
Conceptually related terms
Definition-based contiguity
Empirical knowledge-based contiguity
Definitional associative relationships
Different hierarchy associative relationships
Environmental relationships
Abstract environmental relationships
Discipline/object studied pairs
Entity/framework pairs
Entity/school of thought pairs
Field of endeavor/practitioner pairs
Concrete environmental relationships
Entity/environment pairs
Entity/place pairs
Position in time and space
Process/environment of application pairs
Through situation
Situation or condition/what may occur pairs
Etymologically related associative relationships
Process issue relationships
Entity/counteragent pairs
Process/counteragent pairs
Thing/counteragent pairs
Indirect object
Instigator/process pairs*
Agent/process pairs*
Entity/counteragent pairs*
Instrument/goal pairs*
Instrument/process pairs*
Intransitive verb situations*
Process/counteragent pairs*
Method/product pairs
Process/method pairs
Process/property pairs*
Process/property of entity pairs*
Property/process performed on it pairs*
Process/recipient pairs
Action/target pairs
Entity/process pairs
Process/entity processed pairs
Process/product pairs
Producer/product pairs
Product/material pairs
Property issue associative relationships
Entity/device for measurement pairs
Entity/entity pairs
Entity/measure pairs
Process/property pairs
Process/property of entity pairs
Property/process performed on it pairs
Property/property as attribute pairs
Thing considered as attribute of another thing
Thing/application pairs
Thing/property pairs
Physical or intrinsic property
Temporary or variable property
Temporary state
Thing/abstract property pairs
Meaning overlap associative relationships

Extrasemantic relationships

Used somewhat interchangeably
Same hierarchy associative relationships
Causal relationships
Dependency relationships
Entity/predecessor pairs
Possible cause/effect pairs
Processes in sequence
Genetic predecessor relationships*
Influencing relationships
Agent/process pairs*
Entity/counteragent pairs*
Process/counteragent pairs*
Thing/counteragent pairs*
Instrument/goal pairs*
Instrument/process pairs*
Intransitive verb situations*
Process/counteragent pairs*
Process/method pairs
Raw material/product pairs
Closely related siblings
Closely related genealogical siblings
Definitionally related siblings
Frequently interchangeable siblings
Meaning overlap siblings
Considered as relationships
Coordinate ideas
Coordinates with no broader term
Parts of equations*
Entity studied in mutual relationship to another entity
Parts of equations*
Partitive relationships*
Composition partitive relationships*
Comprehensive partitive relationships*
Intrinsic partitive relationships*
Whole/part pairs*
Non-physical whole/part pairs*
Physical whole/part pairs*
Anatomical whole/part pairs*
Anatomical organ whole/part pairs*
Anatomical system whole/part pairs*
Artifact whole/part pairs*
Geographic whole/part pairs*
Topic inclusion*
Discipline/subdiscipline pairs*
Whole/attachment pairs*
Whole/integral part pairs*
Whole/piece pairs*
Whole/segmental part pairs*
Whole/systemic part pairs*
Anatomical system whole/part pairs*
Persons interacting in a special context
Property/property pairs
Scope issues
Generic terms
Noun not true broader term
Scope noted term and other possible meanings
Unspecified associative relationships






Lykke Nielsen, M. (2002). The word association method - a gateway to work-task based retrieval. Åbo : Åbo Akademi University Press. (Doctoral dissertation).


Michel, D. (1997). Appendix B: Taxonomy of Subject Relationships. IN: ALA. American Library Association. ALCTS. Association for Library Collections & Technical Services. Final Report to the ALCTS/CCS Subject Analysis Committee. Subcommittee on Subject Relationships/Reference Structures.


Michel, D. (1999). Appendix B: Taxonomy of Subject Relationships. Part  1 (Direct link):


Part 2:


Young, R. M. (1973-74). Association of ideas. IN:  Wiener, P. P. : The Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Available (without illustrations):


See also: Semantic relations




Birger Hjørland

Last edited: 10-09-2007