Is accessing of words affected by affective valence only? A discrete emotion view on the emotional congruency effect

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Abstract

This paper advances the discussion on which emotion information affects word accessing. Emotion information, which is formed as a result of repeated experiences, is primary and necessary in learning and representing word meanings. Previous findings suggested that valence (i.e., positive or negative) denoted by words can be automatically activated and plays a role in many significant cognitive processes. However, there has been a lack of discussion about whether discrete emotion information (i.e., happiness, anger, sadness, and fear) is also involved in these processes. According to the hierarchy model, emotions are considered organized within an abstract-to-concrete hierarchy, in which emotion prototypes are organized following affective valence. By controlling different congruencies of emotion relations (i.e., matches or mismatches between valences and prototypes of emotion), the present study showed both an evaluative congruency effect (Experiment 1) and a discrete emotional congruency effect (Experiment 2). These findings indicate that not only affective valences but also discrete emotions can be activated under the present priming lexical decision task. However, the present findings also suggest that discrete emotions might be activated at the later priming stage as compared to valences. The present work provides evidence that information about discrete emotion could be involved in word processing. This might be a result of subjects' embodied experiences.

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Chen, X., Liu, B., & Lin, S. (2016). Is accessing of words affected by affective valence only? A discrete emotion view on the emotional congruency effect. Frontiers in Psychology, 7(JUN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00916

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