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Cogn Emot. 2012;26(8):1445-58. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2012.673477. Epub 2012 Jun 7.

Anger as "seeing red": evidence for a perceptual association.

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  • 1Psychology Department, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND 58108-6050, USA. Adam.Fetterman@ndsu.edu


Metaphor representation theory contends that people conceptualise their non-perceptual states (e.g., emotion concepts) in perceptual terms. The present research extends this theory to colour manipulations and discrete emotional representations. Two experiments (N = 265) examined whether a red font colour would facilitate anger conceptions, consistent with metaphors referring to anger to "seeing red". Evidence for an implicit anger-red association was robust and emotionally discrete in nature. Further, Experiment 2 examined the directionality of such associations and found that they were asymmetrical: Anger categorisations were faster when a red font colour was involved, but redness categorisations were not faster when an anger-related word was involved. Implications for multiple literatures are discussed.

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