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How does emotional content affect lexical processing?

Vinson, D; Ponari, M; Vigliocco, G; (2014) How does emotional content affect lexical processing? Cogn Emot , 28 (4) pp. 737-746. 10.1080/02699931.2013.851068. Green open access

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Abstract

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.

Type: Article
Title: How does emotional content affect lexical processing?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2013.851068
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2013.851068
Additional information: © 2013 The Author(s). Published by Taylor & Francis. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The moral rights of the named author(s) have been asserted.
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
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1415210
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