Not all negative words slow down lexical decision and naming speed: Importance of word arousal

Randy J. Larsen, Kimberly A. Mercer, David A. Balota, Michael J. Strube
2008 Emotion  
Previously the authors analyzed sets of words used in emotion Stroop experiments and found little evidence of automatic vigilance, for example, slower lexical decision time (LDT) or naming speed for negative words after controlling for lexical features. If there is a slowdown evoked by word negativity, most studies to date overestimate the effect because word negativity is often confounded with lexical features that promote slower word recognition. Estes and Adelman (this issue) analyze a new
more » ... ue) analyze a new set of words, controlling for important lexical features, and find a small but significant effect for word negativity. Moreover, they conclude the effect is categorical. The authors analyze the same data set but include the arousal value of each word. The authors find nonlinear and interaction effects in predicting LDT and naming speed. Not all negative words produce the generic slowdown. Paradoxically, negative words that are moderate to low on arousal produce more LDT slowing than negative words higher on arousal. This finding presents a theoretical and empirical challenge to researchers wishing to understand the boundaries of the automatic vigilance effect.
doi:10.1037/1528-3542.8.4.445 fatcat:y2k6hi44xreh7i6c3uvagsanfa