Article

Reduced Language Processing Automaticity Induces Weaker Emotions in Bilinguals Regardless of Learning Context

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Abstract

While the evidence for impoverished emotional reactions of bilinguals in their weaker second language (L2) accumulates, the underlying mechanisms of this effect remain poorly understood. Here, we investigate how unbalanced bilinguals’ language-specific emotions vary depending on differences in language processing automaticity versus in language learning and use contexts. We analyzed behavioral emotional reactions in a hypothetical decision-making task with low emotional appeal, the Asian disease problem (Study 1) and pupil and valence responses to authentic narrative video advertising with high emotional appeal (Study 2). Both studies replicated the L2 emotion disadvantage. In decision-making, L2 reactions paralleled first language reactions under perceptual load. During the L2 narrative, the pupil dilated less because of reduced lexical access automaticity rather than in response to language-context factors. The findings suggest that bilinguals have language-independent emotional representations. Yet, they process emotional information conveyed in L2 less automatically, which triggers weaker emotional reactions.

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... Many studies with successive and unbalanced bilinguals have documented differential reactions to emotional stimuli in L1 and L2, and most evidence suggests that an L2 is linked with less emotionality than an L1 (e.g., Ayçiçeği-Dinn & Caldwell-Harris, 2009;Opitz & Degner, 2012;Thoma & Baum, 2019). This idea goes back to the socalled detachment effect coined by Marcos (1976), who reported that bilingual psychotherapy clients were "significantly more emotionally withdrawn" (p. ...
... Participants selfassessed their speaking, reading, writing, listening and grammar skills on 7-point scales as significantly higher in German. Their ratio scores obtained from a language learning and use questionnaire (Thoma & Baum, 2019) were also higher for German. While they had acquired German from birth, the age of acquisition of English was about 8 years. ...
... Finally, lexical access automaticity in a 240-item bilingual visual lexical decision task also adopted from Thoma and Baum (2019) was significantly better in German. In sum, our participants were unbalanced sequential bilinguals dominant in L1 German but with advanced L2 English skills. ...
Chapter
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While research on language-dependent emotions in bilinguals is booming, it becomes increasingly important to warrant the generalizability of its findings. So far, most studies have examined emotion in mono-measure designs with neurophysiological or experiential reactions to linguistic stimuli in receptive tasks. Yet, emotions are multifaceted and may be co-constructed through language(s) during verbalization, which calls for multi-measure approaches and more productive tasks. This chapter therefore reports on a novel methodology using emotional autobiographical memories (AMs) encoded and told in the first (L1) or second language (L2). Specifically, we investigated if the productive re-experience of AMs replicates reduced L2 emotions for sad but not for happy memories previously observed in receptive tasks with successive bilinguals. We designed a language (L1 German vs. L2 English) by AM-valence (positive vs. negative) experiment and triangulated automatic eye-movement (pupil dilation and fixations) and conscious self-report measures of emotion. Participants assessed AM phenomenology further (e.g., vividness, coherence). Linear mixed effects models with the pupillometry and self-report data (but not fixations) replicated a language-valence interaction. Yet, instead of the expected pattern of weaker negative L2 emotions, remembering and telling a sad AM in L2 led to stronger emotional reactions than telling a happy one, while positive vs. negative valence did not matter in L1. We assume that sad L2 memories are rare, which grants them salience in memory. Overall, the findings suggest that the multi-level measurement of emotions induced by telling language-specific AMs offers promising insights into the complex nature of language-dependent emotions.
... Cross-experimentally, evidence for language-dependent emotions in unbalanced bilingualstypically reduced ones in L2has been found in a variety of different measures such as electrodermal activity (Caldwell-Harris & Ayçiçeği-Dinn, 2009;Harris, Ayçiçeği-Dinn & Gleason, 2003), pupillometry (García-Palacios et al., 2018;Iacozza, Costa & Duñabeitia, 2017;Thoma, 2021;Thoma & Baum, 2019;Toivo & Scheepers, 2019), event-related potential (ERP) in brain activity (Jończyk, Boutonnet, Musiał, Hoemann & Thierry, 2016;Opitz & Degner, 2012;Sianipar, Middelburg & Dijkstra, 2015), word-based Stroop and Simon tasks (Sheikh & Titone, 2016;Sutton, Altarriba, Gianico & Basnight-Brown, 2007), hypothetical decision making (Costa et al., 2014;Keysar, Hayakawa & An, 2012) and explicit self-report (Caldwell-Harris & Ayçiçeği-Dinn, 2009;Dewaele, 2004Dewaele, , 2008Imbault, Titone, Warriner & Kuperman, 2021;Vélez-Uribe & Rosselli, 2019). Explanations for bilinguals' language-dependent emotions are still debated (see Thoma, 2021;Williams, Srinivasan, Liu, Lee & Zhou, 2020 for review and empirical testing). ...
... The aim of the present research was to validate the force and duration of squeezing a dynamometer as nonverbal, visceral measures of self-reported language-dependent emotions experienced by bilinguals. Therefore, we replicated and extended two prior experiments (Iacozza et al., 2017;Thoma & Baum, 2019) using a multi-measure approach. This allowed us to cross-validate physiological (pupil dilation), visceral (grip force and duration), and verbal (self-report rating scale) measures of emotional reactions to stimuli presented either in the bilinguals' L1 or L2. ...
... We developed two replication hypotheses following the original research (Iacozza et al., 2017;Thoma & Baum, 2019). First, we hypothesized that unbalanced bilinguals' emotions are stronger in L1 than in L2 (H1). ...
Article
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Bilinguals’ emotions can vary in intensity with the language of a stimulus. Yet, extant research has somewhat surprisingly accepted inconsistent results from implicit nonverbal and explicit verbal emotion measures. To date, it is unclear if this inconsistency recurs to conceptual or methodological differences. We therefore investigated if squeezing a handheld dynamometer is a valid nonverbal, “visceral” alternative to self-reported language-dependent feelings by comparing explicit ratings to neuro-physiological emotional reactions. We replicated two pupillometry experiments inducing language-dependent emotions through sentence reading (Study 1) and listening to narrative video commercials (Study 2) of low and high emotionality in the first or second language. Pupillometry confirmed that bilinguals are more sensitive to the low-high emotionality contrast in their first than second language. Grip force (but not duration) mirrored these findings, whereas verbal ratings did not. We thus recommend grip force as a new attentional, nonverbal measure for bilingualism research.
... Overall, however, the evidence about the size and direction of language-dependent emotion differences is inconsistent and, therefore, the causes are debated. Predominantly processingbased explanations assume structurally similar, yet less accessible L2 emotion semantics, so that emotional reactions to L2 stimuli are slower and less intense at a particular time (Opitz & Degner, 2012;Sianipar et al., 2015;Thoma & Baum, 2019). This approach predicts emotion differences between languages will narrow if the L2 disadvantage in processing automaticity is reduced or compensated for, e.g. by practice, additional processing time or cognitively easier tasks, irrespective of an individual's language background. ...
... Pupil size is a reliable measure of attraction and an important signal of attractiveness so important that women in the Renaissance used the plant poison belladonna to dilate their pupils (Ebitz & Moore, 2018). The pupil is also sensitive to bilinguals' language-dependent emotions (García-Palacios et al., 2018;Thoma & Baum, 2019;Toivo & Scheepers, 2019). In addition, individuals' eye fixations and fixation duration vary with the attractiveness of faces they look at (Burriss et al., 2014;Faust et al., 2019). ...
... We assessed language proficiency with a 240-item speeded bilingual lexical decision task (LDT) adapted from Oganian, Froehlich, et al. (2016) and a language learning and use (LLU) questionnaire by Thoma and Baum (2019) with 17 questions in each language that generate a weighted proportional LLU score. From the lexical decision times, we derived an index of language-dependent lexical access automaticity, the coefficient of variability (CV = SD/M) of reaction times (Segalowitz et al., 1998). ...
Article
Unbalanced bilinguals react differently to emotional stimuli in their first (L1) and second (L2) language. However, the size and direction of the emotion difference varies across emotions and tasks, so that its causes are controversial. Therefore, we investigated if the attentional resources bilinguals allocate to emotion processing moderate their language-dependent emotions. In two experiments, we crossed language and emotion regulation. Study 1 compared effects of distraction and concentration on bilingual emotion-word valence ratings. Study 2 induced positive emotion-focused rumination (or not) prior to a simulated, video-based online-dating activity. It measured emotional attraction to dating candidates speaking the participant’s L1 or L2 in pupillary, eye-fixation and self-report responses. The studies found reduced L2 emotions when emotion processing was distracted or when its level was low to start with. Yet, if bilinguals concentrated or had ruminated on their emotions, their self-reported and physiological emotionality was comparable or even stronger in L2, relative to L1. The findings suggest that bilinguals’ language-dependent emotions vary with differential language-processing automaticity. We propose that the observed emotion-regulation moderation generates further testable predictions about where and when language choice is relevant for bilinguals’ emotions.
... One option is that processing and responding in one's L2 is less automatic and takes a more deliberate state of processing, resulting in a weaker emotional context when using an L2, i.e. an increased-systematicity account for L2 Opitz & Degner, 2012). This may be due to cognitive load (Hadjichristidis et al. 2017): L1 users showed similar patterns to L2 users once the perceptual load in L1 was increased (Thoma & Baum, 2019). ...
... It may be due to characteristics of our participants. Previous studies by Keysar et al. (2012) and Costa et al. (2014aCosta et al. ( , 2014b as well as Thoma and Baum (2019) have used student participant groups relatively homogenous in their L2 use and learning background, relying on people who learned their L2 in adolescence or young adulthood (mean age at which participants began learning their L2 ranged from 12-17 across these three studies). In the current study, a more heterogeneous group of L2 users was included (with a mean age of 32-35, and a mean age of acquiring Spanish as a second language of about 11-14 years, and a mean age of acquiring English as a second language of about 8 years old. ...
... Apart from the weaker emotions account causing an FLE, another possible driver could be an increased cognitive load, as shown by Geipel et al. (2016). This factor was also suggested by Thoma and Baum (2019) to be relevant in framing tasks. Another possible factor driving foreign language effects in moral judgements is vividness of mental imagery (Hayakawa & Keysar, 2018). ...
Article
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In decision-making people react differently to positive wordings than to negatives, which may be caused by negativity bias: a difference in emotional force of these wordings. Because emotions are assumed to be activated more strongly in one's mother tongue, we predict a Foreign Language Effect, being that such framing effects are larger in a native language than in a foreign one. In two experimental studies (N = 475 and N = 503) we tested this prediction for balanced and unbalanced second language users of Spanish and English and for three types of valence framing effects. In Study 1 we observed risky-choice framing effects and attribute framing effects, but these were always equally large for native and foreign-language speakers. In our second study, we added a footbridge dilemma to the framing materials. Only for this task we did observe a Foreign Language Effect, indicating more utilitarian choices when the dilemma is presented in L2. Hence, across two studies, we find no Foreign Language Effect for three types of valence framing but we do find evidence for such an effect in a moral decision task. We discuss several alternative explanations for these results.
... Based on this dual-process model, Costa et al. (2014) reasoned that the MFLE is due to a reduced emotionality in a foreign language which in turn increases the likelihood of a controlled cost-benefit analysis favoring the utilitarian option. Indeed, there is psychophysiological evidence that people respond less emotionally to foreign-language stimuli (e.g., Harris, 2004;Thoma & Baum, 2019). However, Geipel et al. (2015a, Study 2) did not find the MFLE to be mediated by different levels of reported emotional distress. ...
Article
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Recent studies suggest that processing moral dilemmas in a foreign language instead of the native language increases the likelihood of moral judgments in line with the utilitarian principle. The goal of our research was to investigate the replicability and robustness of this moral foreign-language effect and to explore its underlying mechanisms by means of the CNI model—a multinomial model that allows to estimate the extent to which moral judgments are driven by people’s sensitivity to consequences ( C -parameter), their sensitivity to norms ( N -parameter), and their general preference for action or inaction ( I -parameter). In two pre-registered studies, German participants provided moral judgments to dilemmas that were either presented in German or English. In Experiment 1, participants judged eight different dilemmas in four versions each (i.e., 32 dilemmas in total). In Experiment 2, participants judged four different dilemmas in one of the four versions (i.e., 4 dilemmas in total). Neither of the two studies replicated the moral foreign-language effect. Moreover, we also did not find reliable language effects on the three parameters of the CNI model. We conclude that if there is a moral foreign-language effect, it must be quite small and/or very fragile and context specific.
... In summary, in this section we have reviewed evidence that in some cases using an L2 can dampen emotional arousal. In addition to the research cited above, many other studies have found decreased emotional resonance in an L2 [30,31,[40][41][42][43][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39]. This finding is thus observed quite frequently, implying some validity, but many other studies have not replicated this finding [30,34,[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52]. ...
Article
Background: It is probable that billions of people have received information about COVID-19 in their second-acquired language (i.e. L2), given the global breadth of both bilingualism and the novel coronavirus. The use of an L2 could have relevance to a massive disease outbreak because L2 use influences the psychological processing of health information. Method: We conducted a search of the literature on the psychological effects of processing information in an L2. We included studies that examined how spoken and written processing of health- and disease-related information in an L2 influences (a) fear and anxiety, as indexed by physiological measures of emotional arousal, (b) decision-making, as measured by susceptibility to cognitive biases, and (c) language comprehension, as indexed by understanding complex information. In reviewing this literature, we engage in the thought experiment of contemplating what consequences these findings could have for a massive disease outbreak, such as COVID-19. Results: The research indicates that using an L2 decreases fear and anxiety (and thus could reduce the emotional response to a disease outbreak), increases rational decision-making (and thus could minimize disease-related cognitive biases), and decreases language comprehension (and thus could lower compliance to disease outbreak mitigation measures). Conclusions: When a bilingual listens to or reads information in their L2, it reliably affects their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in ways that are relevant to a health crisis. Health communication specialists therefore should take into account the mental effects of using a second language.
... For example, L1 is typically learned and used in more emotional contexts such as the home, and L2 is typically learned and used in less emotional contexts such as the foreign language classroom (Caldwell- Harris, 2014). This can result in a less automatic processing of L2, triggering weaker emotional responses (Thoma & Baum, 2018). Empirical studies have shown that bilingual speakers experienced increased emotion when speaking in L1 than in L2, as indicated by their facial emotion behavior, pupil dilation, vocal tone, and autonomic responses (see Pavlenko, 2012 for a review). ...
Preprint
Previous research has found that bilingual speakers’ first (L1) and second languages (L2) are differentially associated with their emotional experiences. Moreover, bilinguals appear to code-switch (alternate between two or more languages in a single conversation) during emotional episodes. However, prior evidence has been limited to clinical case studies and self-report studies, leaving open the specificity of the link between code-switching (CS) and emotion, and its underlying mechanisms. The present study examined the dynamic associations between CS and facial emotion behavior in a sample of 68 Chinese-American parents and children during a dyadic emotion-inducing puzzle box task. Specifically, bilingual parents’ language use (L1 Chinese or L2 English), CS behavior (L1L2 or L2L1 switches), and facial emotion behavior (positive and negative valence) were coded at each 5-second interval. Multilevel modeling was used to analyze whether facial emotion behavior predicted later CS, and vice versa. We found that negative facial emotion predicted higher subsequent CS in both L1L2 and L2L1 directions, with stronger associations for the L2L1 direction. On the other hand, positive facial emotion was associated with lower contemporaneous L2L1 CS. CS did not predict later facial emotion behavior, suggesting language switching may not have an immediate effect on emotion. The present findings are consistent with the idea that emotional arousal, especially negative arousal, reduces cognitive control and may trigger spontaneous CS. Together, these findings provide insight into why bilingual speakers switch languages during emotional episodes, and hold implications for clinical interventions serving bilingual individuals and families.
... For example, L1 is typically learned and used in more emotional contexts such as the home, and L2 is typically learned and used in less emotional contexts such as the foreign language classroom (Caldwell- Harris, 2014). This can result in a less automatic processing of L2, triggering weaker emotional responses (Thoma & Baum, 2018). Empirical studies have shown that bilingual speakers experienced increased emotion when speaking in L1 than in L2, as indicated by their facial emotion behavior, pupil dilation, vocal tone, and autonomic responses (see Pavlenko, 2012 for a review). ...
Article
Full-text available
Previous research has found that bilingual speakers' first (L1) and second languages (L2) are differentially associated with their emotional experiences. Moreover, bilinguals appear to code-switch (alternate between two or more languages in a single conversation) during emotional episodes. However, prior evidence has been limited to clinical case studies and self-report studies, leaving open the specificity of the link between code-switching (CS) and emotion and its underlying mechanisms. The present study examined the dynamic associations between CS and facial emotion behavior in a sample of 68 Chinese American parents and children during a dyadic emotion-inducing puzzle box task. Specifically, bilingual parents' language use (L1 Chinese or L2 English), CS behavior (L1→L2 or L2→L1 switches), and facial emotion behavior (positive and negative valence) were coded at each 5-s interval. Multilevel modeling was used to analyze whether facial emotion behavior predicted later CS and vice versa. We found that negative facial emotion predicted higher subsequent CS in both L1→L2 and L2→L1 directions, with stronger associations for the L2→L1 direction. On the other hand, positive facial emotion was associated with lower contemporaneous L2→L1 CS. CS did not predict later facial emotion behavior, suggesting language switching may not have an immediate effect on emotion. The present findings are consistent with the idea that emotional arousal, especially negative arousal, reduces cognitive control and may trigger spontaneous CS. Together, these findings provide insight into why bilingual speakers switch languages during emotional episodes and hold implications for clinical interventions serving bilingual individuals and families. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
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Language switching is encountered commonly and inevitably in bilingual society and often induces costs for target language's production. However, for auditory words' comprehension at sentence level, the limited research showed divergent findings. Some research observed comprehension costs when the language of target words was switched with the code of sentential contexts kept constant; but a potential switch advantage was also showed in non-dominant targets' processing when sentential context switches occurred. Additionally, it's well documented that the words' emotional connotations play a key role in both L1 and L2 word comprehension. Therefore, we aimed to explore which switch effect would occur when bilinguals comprehended L1/L2 emotional target nouns in auditory modality at behavioral and neural level through a visual object selection task. Behaviorally, switch related costs occurred in L1 targets' comprehension, whereas advantage effects were found in L2. Moreover, greater switch advantage occurred for positive and negative targets than for neutral ones. Consistently, larger LPC (Late Positive Component) defection was elicited for L2-Switch trials relative to L2-Nonswitch trials and the differences of LPC's amplitude could predict the behavioral advantageous effects of switching in nondominant targets' comprehension, which suggest that language switching lead to deeper re-analyses for emotional words. Taken together, it's suggested that bilinguals can adaptively utilize top-down (sentential prediction) and bottom-up (words' emotional information) cues to access weaker L2 representations.
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Preprint
Full-text available
Background . The pupillary light reflex is the main mechanism that regulates the pupillary diameter; it is controlled by the autonomic system and mediated by subcortical pathways. In addition, cognitive and emotional processes influence pupillary function due to input from cortical innervation, but the exact circuits remain poorly understood. We performed a systematic review to evaluate the mechanisms behind pupillary changes associated with cognitive efforts and processing of emotions and to investigate the cerebral areas involved in cortical modulation of the pupillary light reflex. Methodology. We searched multiple databases until November 2018 for studies on cortical modulation of pupillary function in humans and non-human primates. Of 8808 papers screened, 252 studies were included. Results. Most investigators focused on pupillary dilatation as an index of cognitive and emotional processing, evaluating how changes in pupillary diameter reflect levels of attention and arousal. Only few tried to correlate specific cerebral areas to pupillary changes, using either cortical activation models (employing micro-stimulation of cortical structures in non-human primates) or cortical lesion models (e.g. investigating patients with stroke and damage to salient cortical and/or subcortical areas). Results suggest involvement of several cortical regions, including the insular cortex, the frontal eye field and the prefrontal cortex, and of subcortical structures such as the locus coeruleus and the superior colliculus. Conclusions. Pupillary dilatation occurs with many kinds of mental or emotional processes, following sympathetic activation or parasympathetic inhibition. This phenomenon is controlled by several subcortical and cortical structures that are directly or indirectly connected to the brainstem pupillary innervation system.
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Although bilinguals respond differently to emotionally valenced words in their first language (L1) relative to emotionally neutral words, similar effects of emotional valence are hard to come by in second language (L2) processing. We examine the extent to which these differences in first and second language processing are due to the context in which the 2 languages are acquired: L1 is typically acquired in more naturalistic settings (e.g., family) than L2 (e.g., at school). Fifty German-English bilinguals learned unfamiliar German and English negative and neutral words in 2 different learning conditions: One group (emotion video context) watched videos of a person providing definitions of the words with facial and gestural cues, whereas another group (neutral video context) received the same definitions without gestural and emotional cues. Subsequently, participants carried out an emotional Stroop task, a sentence completion task, and a recall task on the words they had just learned. We found that the effect of learning context on the influence of emotional valence on responding was modulated by a) language status, L1 versus L2, and b) task requirement. We suggest that a more nuanced approach is required to capture the differences in emotion effects in the speed versus accuracy of access to words across different learning contexts and different languages, in particular with regard to our finding that bilinguals respond to L2 words in a similar manner as L1 words provided that the learning context is naturalistic and incorporates emotional and prosodic cues. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Effects of emotion on word processing are well established in monolingual speakers. However, studies that have assessed whether affective features of words undergo the same processing in a native and nonnative language have provided mixed results: Studies that have found differences between native language (L1) and second language (L2) processing attributed the difference to the fact that L2 learned late in life would not be processed affectively, because affective associations are established during childhood. Other studies suggest that adult learners show similar effects of emotional features in L1 and L2. Differences in affective processing of L2 words can be linked to age and context of learning, proficiency, language dominance, and degree of similarity between L2 and L1. Here, in a lexical decision task on tightly matched negative, positive, and neutral words, highly proficient English speakers from typologically different L1s showed the same facilitation in processing emotionally valenced words as native English speakers, regardless of their L1, the age of English acquisition, or the frequency and context of English use. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
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This study explores the interaction between deceptive language and second language processing. One hundred participants were asked to produce veridical and false statements in either their first or second language. Pupil size, speech latencies, and utterance durations were analyzed. Results showed additive effects of statement veracity and the language in which these statements were produced. That is, false statements elicited larger pupil dilations and longer naming latencies compared with veridical statements, and statements in the foreign language elicited larger pupil dilations and longer speech durations and compared with first language. Importantly, these two effects did not interact, suggesting that the processing cost associated with deception is similar in a native and foreign language. The theoretical implications of these observations are discussed.
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The food sensory science community has recently shown an increasing interest towards the measurement of emotions induced by product consumption. In this paper, we propose a standard method to objectively and quantitatively explore emotions in tasting situations through measurement and analysis of pupil diameter. Pupillometry is a well-known method for investigating cognitive load and emotional effects. However, since a standard method to analyze pupil response data is lacking, we provide here a guided methodology, from data acquisition to data processing. An example of an application is also provided. The advantages and major drawbacks of this method are discussed.
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Should you sacrifice one man to save five? Whatever your answer, it should not depend on whether you were asked the question in your native language or a foreign tongue so long as you understood the problem. And yet here we report evidence that people using a foreign language make substantially more utilitarian decisions when faced with such moral dilemmas. We argue that this stems from the reduced emotional response elicited by the foreign language, consequently reducing the impact of intuitive emotional concerns. In general, we suggest that the increased psychological distance of using a foreign language induces utilitarianism. This shows that moral judgments can be heavily affected by an orthogonal property to moral principles, and importantly, one that is relevant to hundreds of millions of individuals on a daily basis.
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This study investigated the development of automaticity in second language word recognition. In an earlier study (Segalowitz & Segalowitz, 1993) we demonstrated that a reduction in the coefficient of variation of lexical decision reaction time (CVRT) - the standard deviation of reaction time divided by mean reaction time (RT) - reflects a restructuring of underlying cognitive processing mechanisms in the direction of increased automaticity and not a simple speed-up of those mechanisms. In the current study, English speakers studying French performed multiple lexical decision tasks. Differences in CVRT were compared cross-sectionally and longitudinally. As in the earlier study, crosssectional analyses showed that CVRT correlated positively with RT for initially fast, but not initially slow, responders. CVRT also correlated positively with RT in longitudinal analyses. These results confirm that, with extended learning experience, the cognitive components underlying word recognition are restructured (automatized) and not simply speeded-up.
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We report the results of an affective priming study conducted with proficient sequential German and French bilinguals to assess automatic affective word processing in L1 and L2. Additionally, a semantic priming task was conducted in both languages. Whereas semantic priming effects occurred in L1 and L2, and significant affective priming effects were found in L1, affective priming effects in L2 were only found for participants with high levels of language immersion and frequency of L2 use. These results suggest that for sequential bilinguals the intensity of L2 use largely determines whether emotional words in L2 automatically activate their affective connotations.
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The present study investigated the well acknowledged phenomenon of a different sense of emotionality in a person's first (L1) and second language (L2). Event-related potentials were recorded during the reading of pleasant, unpleasant and neutral words in L1 and L2. Enhanced processing of both emotional compared to neutral words was reflected in an amplified early posterior negativity (EPN) about 280-430 ms after word onset. While the EPN did not differ in amplitude between L1 and L2, it was delayed for L2. Interestingly, a better task performance in L2 but not L1 predicted longer delays of the EPN. These results might indicate that the affective valence of L2 words is processed in a less immediate way due to delayed lexical access. This is interpreted in terms of interference in a highly integrated L1/L2 mental lexicon.
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Dual-process theories have suggested that emotion plays a key role in the framing effect in decision-making. However, little is known about the potential impact of a specific positive or negative emotional context on this bias. We investigated this question with adult participants using an emotional priming paradigm. First, participants were presented with positive or negative affective pictures (i.e., pleasant vs. unpleasant photographs). Afterward, participants had to perform a financial decision-making task that was unrelated to the pictures previously presented. The results revealed that the presentation framed in terms of gain or loss no longer affected subjects' decision-making following specific exposure to emotionally pleasant pictures. Interestingly, a positive emotional context did not globally influence risk-taking behavior but specifically decreased the risk propensity in the loss frame. This finding confirmed that a positive emotional context can reduce loss aversion, and it strongly reinforced the dual-process view that the framing effect stems from an affective heuristic belonging to intuitive System 1. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved).
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Older adults perform worse on traditional tests of emotion recognition accuracy than do young adults. In this paper, we review descriptive research to date on age differences in emotion recognition from facial expressions, as well as the primary theoretical frameworks that have been offered to explain these patterns. We propose that this is an area of inquiry that would benefit from an ecological approach in which contextual elements are more explicitly considered and reflected in experimental methods. Use of dynamic displays and examination of specific cues to accuracy, for example, may reveal more nuanced age-related patterns and may suggest heretofore unexplored underlying mechanisms.
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The Effortfulness Hypothesis suggests that sensory impairment (either simulated or age-related) may decrease capacity for semantic integration in language comprehension. We directly tested this hypothesis by measuring resource allocation to different levels of processing during reading (i.e., word vs. semantic analysis). College students read three sets of passages word-by-word, one at each of three levels of dynamic visual noise. There was a reliable interaction between processing level and noise, such that visual noise increased resources allocated to word-level processing, at the cost of attention paid to semantic analysis. Recall of the most important ideas also decreased with increasing visual noise. Results suggest that sensory challenge can impair higher-level cognitive functions in learning from text, supporting the Effortfulness Hypothesis.
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The current study looks at the role working memory plays in risky-choice framing. Eighty-six participants took the Automatic OSPAN, a measurement of working memory; this was followed by a risky-choice framing task. Participants with high working memory capacities demonstrated well pronounced framing effects, while those with low working memory capacities did not. This pattern suggests that, in a typical risky-choice decision task, elaborative encoding of task information by those with high working memory capacity may lead them to a more biased decision compared to those with low working memory.
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We propose that experience of emotion is a mental phenomenon, which requires resources. This hypothesis implies that a concurrent cognitive load diminishes the intensity of feeling since the 2 activities are competing for the same resources. Two sets of experiments tested this hypothesis. The first line of experiments (Experiments 1-4) examined the intensity of participants' feelings as they performed a secondary (backward counting) task. The results showed that the intensity of both negative and positive feelings diminished under a cognitive load and that this attenuation of feeling was not mediated by either distraction from external stimuli or demand characteristics. In the second set of experiments (Experiments 5-6), load was created by asking the participants to focus on the feelings. Even in these circumstances, the participants who were under load reported a lower intensity of feeling than those who were not under load. We explain these findings in terms of a resource-dependent model of emotional experience. Possible implications of our findings for a broader class of phenomenological experiences are succinctly discussed.
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We present an easy-to-administer and automated version of a popular working memory (WM) capacity task (operation span; Ospan) that is mouse driven, scores itself, and requires little intervention on the part of the experimenter. It is shown that this version of Ospan correlates well with other measures of WM capacity and has both good internal consistency (alpha = .78) and test-retest reliability (.83). In addition, the automated version of Ospan (Aospan) was shown to load on the same factor as two other WM measures. This WM capacity factor correlated with a factor composed of fluid abilities measures. The utility of the Aospan was further demonstrated by analyzing response times (RTs) that indicated that RT measures obtained in the task accounted for additional variance in predicting fluid abilities. Our results suggest that Aospan is a reliable and valid indicator of WM capacity that can be applied to a wide array of research domains.
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We investigated the processing effort during visual search and counting tasks using a pupil dilation measure. Search difficulty was manipulated by varying the number of distractors as well as the heterogeneity of the distractors. More difficult visual search resulted in more pupil dilation than did less difficult search. These results confirm a link between effort and increased pupil dilation. The pupil dilated more during the counting task than during target-absent search, even though the displays were identical, and the two tasks were matched for reaction time. The moment-to-moment dilation pattern during search suggests little effort in the early stages, but increasingly more effort towards response, whereas the counting task involved an increased initial effort, which was sustained throughout the trial. These patterns can be interpreted in terms of the differential memory load for item locations in each task. In an additional experiment, increasing the spatial memory requirements of the search evoked a corresponding increase in pupil dilation. These results support the view that search tasks involve some, but limited, memory for item locations, and the effort associated with this memory load increases during the trials. In contrast, counting involves a heavy locational memory component from the start.
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Two separate lines of research have examined the effects of cognitive load on emotional processing with similar tasks but seemingly contradictory results. Some research has shown that the emotions elicited by passive viewing of emotional images are reduced by subsequent cognitive load. Other research has shown that such emotions are not reduced by cognitive load if the emotions are actively maintained. The present study sought to compare and resolve these 2 lines of research. Participants either passively viewed negative emotional images or maintained the emotions elicited by the images, and after a delay rated the intensity of the emotion they were feeling. Half of trials included a math task during the delay to induce cognitive load, and the other half did not. Results showed that cognitive load reduced the intensity of negative emotions during passive-viewing of emotional images but not during emotion maintenance. The present study replicates the findings of both lines of research, and shows that the key factor is whether or not emotions are actively maintained. Also, in the context of previous emotion maintenance research, the present results support the theoretical idea of a separable emotion maintenance process. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Attentional effort relates to the allocation of limited-capacity attentional resources to meet current task demands and involves the activation of top-down attentional systems in the brain. Pupillometry is a sensitive measure of this intensity aspect of top-down attentional control. Studies relate pupillary changes in response to cognitive processing to activity in the locus coeruleus (LC), which is the main hub of the brain's noradrenergic system and it is thought to modulate the operations of the brain's attentional systems. In the present study, participants performed a visual divided attention task known as multiple object tracking (MOT) while their pupil sizes were recorded by use of an infrared eye tracker and then were tested again with the same paradigm while brain activity was recorded using fMRI. We hypothesized that the individual pupil dilations, as an index of individual differences in mental effort, as originally proposed by Kahneman (1973), would be a better predictor of LC activity than the number of tracked objects during MOT. The current results support our hypothesis, since we observed pupil-related activity in the LC. Moreover, the changes in the pupil correlated with activity in the superior colliculus and the right thalamus, as well as cortical activity in the dorsal attention network, which previous studies have shown to be strongly activated during visual tracking of multiple targets. Follow-up pupillometric analyses of the MOT task in the same individuals also revealed that individual differences to cognitive load can be remarkably stable over a lag of several years. To our knowledge this is the first study using pupil dilations as an index of attentional effort in the MOT task and also relating these to functional changes in the brain that directly implicate the LC-NE system in the allocation of processing resources.
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Converging evidence suggests that understanding our first-language (L1) results in reactivation of experiential sensorimotor traces in the brain. Surprisingly, little is known regarding the involvement of these processes during second-language (L2) processing. Participants saw L1 or L2 words referring to entities with a typical location (e.g., star, mole) (Experiment 1 & 2) or to an emotion (e.g., happy, sad) (Experiment 3). Participants responded to the words’ ink color with an upward or downward arm movement. Despite word meaning being fully task-irrelevant, L2 automatically activated motor responses similar to L1 even when L2 was acquired rather late in life (age >11). Specifically, words such as star facilitated upward, and words such as root facilitated downward responses. Additionally, words referring to positive emotions facilitated upward, and words referring to negative emotions facilitated downward responses. In summary our study suggests that reactivation of experiential traces is not limited to L1 processing.
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G*Power (Erdfelder, Faul, & Buchner, 1996) was designed as a general stand-alone power analysis program for statistical tests commonly used in social and behavioral research. G*Power 3 is a major extension of, and improvement over, the previous versions. It runs on widely used computer platforms (i.e., Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Mac OS X 10.4) and covers many different statistical tests of the t, F, and chi2 test families. In addition, it includes power analyses for z tests and some exact tests. G*Power 3 provides improved effect size calculators and graphic options, supports both distribution-based and design-based input modes, and offers all types of power analyses in which users might be interested. Like its predecessors, G*Power 3 is free.
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Researchers interested in emotion have long struggled with the problem of how to elicit emotional responses in the laboratory. In this article, we summarise five years of work to develop a set of films that reliably elicit each of eight emotional states (amusement, anger, contentment, disgust, fear, neutral, sadness, and surprise). After evaluating over 250 films, we showed selected film clips to an ethnically diverse sample of 494 English-speaking subjects. We then chose the two best films for each of the eight target emotions based on the intensity and discreteness of subjects' responses to each film. We found that our set of 16 films successfully elicited amusement, anger, contentment. disgust, sadness, surprise, a relatively neutral state, and, to a lesser extent, fear. We compare this set of films with another set recently described by Philippot (1993), and indicate that detailed instructions for creating our set of film stimuli will be provided on request.
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In recent studies of the structure of affect, positive and negative affect have consistently emerged as two dominant and relatively independent dimensions. A number of mood scales have been created to measure these factors; however, many existing measures are inadequate, showing low reliability or poor convergent or discriminant validity. To fill the need for reliable and valid Positive Affect and Negative Affect scales that are also brief and easy to administer, we developed two 10-item mood scales that comprise the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). The scales are shown to be highly internally consistent, largely uncorrelated, and stable at appropriate levels over a 2-month time period. Normative data and factorial and external evidence of convergent and discriminant validity for the scales are also presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)
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Practice on cognitive tasks, in general, and word recognition tasks, in particular, will usually lead to faster and more stable responding. We present an analysis of the relationship between observed reductions in performance latency and latency variability with respect to whether processing has merely become faster across the board or whether a qualitative change, such as automatization, has taken place. The coefficient of variability (CV) - the standard deviation of response time divided by the mean latency - is shown to be useful for this purpose. A cognitive interpretation of the CV is given that relates it to issues of skill development.Data from second language learners' word recognition performance and from a simple detection task are presented which confirm predictions drawn from this interpretation of the cognitive significance of the CV. Initial improvement in a second language word recognition task was interpreted as involving more efficient controlled processing, which later gave way to automatization. The implications of this index of skill are discussed in relation to second language development and the general issue of automaticity of processing components in cognitive skills.
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Would you make the same decisions in a foreign language as you would in your native tongue? It may be intuitive that people would make the same choices regardless of the language they are using, or that the difficulty of using a foreign language would make decisions less systematic. We discovered, however, that the opposite is true: Using a foreign language reduces decision-making biases. Four experiments show that the framing effect disappears when choices are presented in a foreign tongue. Whereas people were risk averse for gains and risk seeking for losses when choices were presented in their native tongue, they were not influenced by this framing manipulation in a foreign language. Two additional experiments show that using a foreign language reduces loss aversion, increasing the acceptance of both hypothetical and real bets with positive expected value. We propose that these effects arise because a foreign language provides greater cognitive and emotional distance than a native tongue does.
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There is evidence that depressed individuals show a more dysfunctional use of emotion regulation strategies than controls. Some authors have suggested that these deficits are not confined to the acute phase but are a risk factor for the development of recurrent depressive episodes. The study aimed to provide a preliminary test of this hypothesis by comparing 42 students with a history of depression to 42 matched controls using self-report questionnaires. In line with the hypotheses, past depression was related to higher levels of self-perceived emotion regulation difficulties, a more frequent use of dysfunctional emotion regulation strategies and a less frequent use of ‘putting things into perspective’ as a functional strategy. In exploratory analyses, the groups also differed in emotion acceptance and clarity. As a whole, the results provide preliminary support for the idea that depression vulnerability is related to deficits in emotion regulation.
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The present study compares the emotionality of English taboo words in native English speakers and native Chinese speakers who learned English as a second language. Neutral and taboo/sexual words were included in a Rapid Serial Visual Presentation (RSVP) task as to-be-ignored distracters in a short- and long-lag condition. Compared with neutral distracters, taboo/sexual distracters impaired the performance in the short-lag condition only. Of critical note, however, is that the performance of Chinese speakers was less impaired by taboo/sexual distracters. This supports the view that a first language is more emotional than a second language, even when words are processed quickly and automatically.
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Pupil dilation is regulated autonomically and it may be a valid measure of pain, but pupillometry for pain intensity recordings has not been evaluated under different luminance conditions. We hypothesized that the pupil response may serve as an objective indicator of pain intensity even if luminance conditions differ which is often the case in experiments with pictures. In 20 healthy females we applied a tonic pressure pain to the fingers (20 s). During pain induction, participants looked at pictures of three different levels of luminance. Pupil dilation was recorded continuously. Immediately after pain onset, there was a significant pupil dilation which reached its maximum about 2 s after pain onset. While this maximum pupil dilation did not differ with pressure intensity, the pupil dilation was larger for the higher pressure intensity in the period from 10 s after pressure onset to pressure offset. Even under different luminance conditions, pupillometry can serve as an objective indicator of pressure pain intensity. Thus, it seems promising to use pupillometry with complex experimental designs combining pain and pictorial stimuli.
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One can exert significant volitional control over the attentional filter so that stimuli that are consistent with one's explicit goals are more likely to receive attention and become part of one's conscious experience. Here we pair a mood induction procedure with an inattentional blindness task to show that one's current mood has a similar influence on attention. A positive, negative, or neutral mood manipulation was followed by an attentionally demanding multiple-object tracking task. During the tracking task, participants were more likely to notice an unexpected face when its emotional expression was congruent with participants' mood. This was particularly true for the frowning face, which was detected almost exclusively by participants in the sad mood induction condition. This attentional bias toward mood-congruent stimuli provides evidence that one's temporary mood can influence the attentional filter, thereby affecting the information that one extracts from, and how one experiences the world.
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According to theories of emotion and attention, we are predisposed to orient rapidly toward threat. However, previous examination of attentional cueing by threat showed no enhanced capture at brief durations, a finding that may be related to the sensitivity of the manual response measure used. Here we investigated the time course of orienting attention toward fearful faces in the exogenous cueing task. Cue duration (20 ms or 100 ms) and response mode (saccadic or manual) were manipulated. In the saccade mode, both enhanced attentional capture and impaired disengagement from fearful faces were evident and limited to 20 ms, suggesting that saccadic cueing effects emerge rapidly and are short lived. In the manual mode, fearful faces impacted only upon the disengagement component of attention at 100 ms, suggesting that manual cueing effects emerge over longer periods of time. Importantly, saccades could reveal threat biases at brief cue durations consistent with current theories of emotion and attention.
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A consensual, componential model of emotions conceptualises them as experiential, physiological, and behavioural responses to personally meaningful stimuli. The present review examines this model in terms of whether different types of emotion-evocative stimuli are associated with discrete and invariant patterns of responding in each response system, how such responses are structured, and if such responses converge across different response systems. Across response systems, the bulk of the available evidence favours the idea that measures of emotional responding reflect dimensions rather than discrete states. In addition, experiential, physiological, and behavioural response systems are associated with unique sources of variance, which in turn limits the magnitude of convergence across measures. Accordingly, the authors suggest that there is no "gold standard" measure of emotional responding. Rather, experiential, physiological, and behavioural measures are all relevant to understanding emotion and cannot be assumed to be interchangeable.
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The present research examines whether cognitive load can modulate the processing of negative emotional stimuli, even after negative stimuli have already activated emotional centers of the brain. In a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study, participants viewed neutral and negative stimuli that were followed by an attention-demanding arithmetic task. As expected, exposure to negative stimuli led to increased activation in emotional regions (the amygdalae and the right insula). Subsequently induced task load led to increased activation in cognitive regions (right dorsolateral frontal cortex, right superior parietal cortex). Importantly, task load down-regulated the brain's response to negative stimuli in emotional regions. Task load also reduced subjectively experienced negative emotion in response to negative stimuli. Finally, coactivation analyses suggest that during task performance, activity in right dorsolateral frontal cortex was related to activity in the amygdalae and the right insula. Together, these findings indicate that cognitive load is capable of tuning down the emotional brain.
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The goal of this review is to critically examine contradictory findings in the study of visual search for emotionally expressive faces. Several key issues are addressed: Can emotional faces be processed preattentively and guide attention? What properties of these faces influence search efficiency? Is search moderated by the emotional state of the observer? The authors argue that the evidence is consistent with claims that (a) preattentive search processes are sensitive to and influenced by facial expressions of emotion, (b) attention guidance is influenced by a dynamic interplay of emotional and perceptual factors, and (c) visual search for emotional faces is influenced by the emotional state of the observer to some extent. The authors also argue that the way in which contextual factors interact to determine search performance needs to be explored further to draw sound conclusions about the precise influence of emotional expressions on search efficiency. Methodological considerations (e.g., set size, distractor background, task set) and ecological limitations of the visual search task are discussed. Finally, specific recommendations are made for future research directions.
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The psychological principles that govern the perception of decision problems and the evaluation of probabilities and outcomes produce predictable shifts of preference when the same problem is framed in different ways. Reversals of preference are demonstrated in choices regarding monetary outcomes, both hypothetical and real, and in questions pertaining to the loss of human lives. The effects of frames on preferences are compared to the effects of perspectives on perceptual appearance. The dependence of preferences on the formulation of decision problems is a significant concern for the theory of rational choice.
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Using magnetic resonance imaging, De Martino and colleagues investigated the neural signature that is associated with decisions between small sure amounts of money and large riskier amounts when the framing of the outcomes is varied. We interpret their results within a dual-system framework, in which different frames evoke distinct emotional responses that different individuals can suppress to various degrees. The study advances the integration of brain imaging results into cognitive theory.
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Recent theories of embodied cognition suggest new ways to look at how we process emotional information. The theories suggest that perceiving and thinking about emotion involve perceptual, somatovisceral, and motoric reexperiencing (collectively referred to as "embodiment") of the relevant emotion in one's self. The embodiment of emotion, when induced in human participants by manipulations of facial expression and posture in the laboratory, causally affects how emotional information is processed. Congruence between the recipient's bodily expression of emotion and the sender's emotional tone of language, for instance, facilitates comprehension of the communication, whereas incongruence can impair comprehension. Taken all together, recent findings provide a scientific account of the familiar contention that "when you're smiling, the whole world smiles with you."