Arousal and emotional valence interact in written word recognition

Citron, Francesca M. M. and Weekes, Brendan S. and Ferstl, Evelyn C. (2014) Arousal and emotional valence interact in written word recognition. Language, Cognition and Neuroscience, 29 (10). pp. 1257-1267. ISSN 2327-3798

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Behavioural, psychophysiological and neuroimaging studies reveal a prioritisation for emotional material in a variety of cognitive tasks. Although emotion is comprised of two dimensions (valence and arousal), previous research using verbal materials has mostly focused on valence, while controlling level of arousal. The aim of the present study is to investigate the effects of valence and arousal on lexical decision (LD) by manipulating both dimensions while controlling correlated psycholinguistic variables (e.g., word length, frequency, imageability). Results showed that valence and arousal affect word recognition in an interactive way: LD latencies are slower for positive high-arousal and negative low-arousal words compared to positive low-arousal and negative high-arousal words, in line with an approach-withdrawal tendency model. Furthermore, principal component analysis (PCA) on the latencies revealed a unique contribution of a distinct cluster of emotion variables, independent of lexico-semantic variables, to explaining written word recognition. We conclude that the dimensions of valence and arousal both need to be taken into account in studies of emotion word processing as they have an interactive relationship.

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Journal Article
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Language, Cognition and Neuroscience
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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Language, Cognition and Neuroscience on 10/03/2014, available online:
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27 Feb 2015 13:24
Last Modified:
22 Nov 2022 01:36