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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23743. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023743. Epub 2011 Aug 24.

Discrete emotion effects on lexical decision response times.

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  • 1Allgemeine und Neurokognitive Psychologie, Free University Berlin, Berlin, Germany.


Our knowledge about affective processes, especially concerning effects on cognitive demands like word processing, is increasing steadily. Several studies consistently document valence and arousal effects, and although there is some debate on possible interactions and different notions of valence, broad agreement on a two dimensional model of affective space has been achieved. Alternative models like the discrete emotion theory have received little interest in word recognition research so far. Using backward elimination and multiple regression analyses, we show that five discrete emotions (i.e., happiness, disgust, fear, anger and sadness) explain as much variance as two published dimensional models assuming continuous or categorical valence, with the variables happiness, disgust and fear significantly contributing to this account. Moreover, these effects even persist in an experiment with discrete emotion conditions when the stimuli are controlled for emotional valence and arousal levels. We interpret this result as evidence for discrete emotion effects in visual word recognition that cannot be explained by the two dimensional affective space account.

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