The physical background of empirical solvent polarity is explored in regard to trends in solute-solvent intermolecular potential energy functions. Aromatic ketyl anions, benzophenone, and 9-fluorenone radical anions, are chosen for a model solute molecule showing solvatochromic behavior similar to betaine-30 dye, which provides the most established solvent polarity scale, ET(30). Common features among the ketyl anions and betaine-30 were examined with quantum chemical calculations for the electronic states and solvation structure. Vertical photodetachment and photoabsorption energies were determined for the ketyl anions microsolvated with a single solvent molecule by measuring photoelectron spectra as well as photodetachment excitation spectra for several aprotic and protic solvents. The spectroscopic data were analyzed through quantum chemical calculations based on density functional theory, and their relationship with the characteristics of intermolecular potential energies was considered. As a result, the typical solvent polarity parameter can be interpreted to reflect essentially the gradient of a potential energy function (namely, the strength of force) between a negative charge and the solvent molecules in the attractive region. A large polarity for protic solvents is attributed to an effective interaction of a proton-like hydrogen atom with the negative charge in a short-range.