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The role of emotional valence in learning novel abstract concepts

Ponari, M; Norbury, CF; Vigliocco, G; (2020) The role of emotional valence in learning novel abstract concepts. Developmental Psychology 10.1037/dev0001091. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

A recent study by Ponari, Norbury, and Vigliocco (2018), showed that emotional valence (i.e. whether a word evokes positive, negative, or no affect) predicts age-of-acquisition ratings and that up to the age of 8-9, children know abstract emotional words better than neutral ones. On the basis of these findings, emotional valence has been argued to provide a bootstrapping mechanism for the acquisition of abstract concepts. However, no previous work has directly assessed whether words' valence, or valence of the context in which words are used, facilitates learning of unknown abstract words. Here, we investigate whether valence supports acquisition of novel abstract concepts. Seven to 10 year old children were taught novel abstract words and concepts (words typically learned at an older age that the children did not know); words were either valenced (positive or negative) or neutral. We also manipulated the context in which words were presented: For 1 group of children, the teaching strategy emphasized emotional information; for the other, it emphasized encyclopedic, nonemotional information. Abstract words with emotional valence were learned better than neutral abstract words by children up to the age of 8-9, replicating previous findings; no effect of teaching strategy was found. These results indicate that emotional valence supports abstract concepts acquisition and further suggest that it is the valence information intrinsic to the word's meaning to have a role, rather than the valence of the context in which the word is learned. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).

Type: Article
Title: The role of emotional valence in learning novel abstract concepts
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1037/dev0001091
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0001091
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.
Keywords: vocabulary acquisition, abstract concepts, children, emotional valence
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Language and Cognition
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106303
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