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How does emotional content affect lexical processing?

Vinson, David, Ponari, Marta, Vigliocco, Gabriella (2014) How does emotional content affect lexical processing? Cognition & Emotion, 28 (4). pp. 737-746. ISSN 0269-9931. (doi:10.1080/02699931.2013.851068) (KAR id:42926)

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Even single words in isolation can evoke emotional reactions, but the mechanisms by which emotion is involved in automatic lexical processing are unclear. Previous studies using extremely similar materials and methods have yielded apparently incompatible patterns of results. In much previous work, however, words' emotional content is entangled with other non-emotional characteristics such as frequency of occurrence, familiarity and age of acquisition, all of which have potential consequences for lexical processing themselves. In the present study, the authors compare different models of emotion using the British Lexicon Project, a large-scale freely available lexical decision database. After controlling for the potentially confounding effects of non-emotional variables, a variety of statistical approaches revealed that emotional words, whether positive or negative, are processed faster than neutral words. This effect appears to be categorical rather than graded; is not modulated by emotional arousal; and is not limited to words explicitly referring to emotions. The authors suggest that emotional connotations facilitate processing due to the grounding of words' meanings in emotional experience.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/02699931.2013.851068
Uncontrolled keywords: Valence, Word recognition, Lexical decision
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Psychology > Cognitive Psychology
Depositing User: Marta Ponari
Date Deposited: 15 Sep 2014 12:37 UTC
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 03:10 UTC
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