DOI: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2012.00154

Acta Psychologica Sinica (心理学报) 2012/44:2 PP.154-165

Concreteness Effects of Emotional Noun Words: Evidences from ERP

In recent years, the relationship between emotion and language has gradually become the focus in language studies. It was reported that concrete words were processed faster and more accurate than abstract words while emotional words possessed similar processing advantage in comparison with neutral words, which termed as concreteness effect and emotion effect, respectively. Moreover, both effects are associated with N400 and LPC: while N400 effect represented semantic activation, LPC might result from mental imagery activation. Despite of the similarity in their effects, emotionality and concreteness of words are still different factors that might affect semantic processing. Therefore, how the two factors influence semantic processing and whether the two factors interacted with each other in word processing remains an open question. To deal with these problems, event-related potentials were recorded in two experiments in which subjects were asked to perform lexical decision task and affective rating task while they were visually presenting concrete and abstract word with neutral, positive and negative emotionality. Results showed that concrete emotional words were processed faster and more accurate than abstract emotional words across emotion type and under both task conditions. Moreover, concrete emotional words elicited an enlarged N400 and decreased LPC than abstract emotional words under both task conditions, although the concreteness effect on LPC reached significant level only under implicit emotional task. In addition, the concreteness effect on N400 under implicit emotional task was modulated by emotionality, as indicated that neutral concrete words elicited enhanced N400 than neutral abstract words, whereas no significant N400 effects were found for either positive or negative words. These results suggested that emotionality and concreteness of words could affect each other in semantic processing stage when the emotionality was implicitly processed, implying that emotionality of words might provide sufficient context and thus facilitate the semantic activation in words processing.

Key words:emotional noun word,emotionality,concreteness,semantic processing,ERP

ReleaseDate:2014-07-21 16:29:37