Lee H. Wurm
Douglas A. Vakoch
Dept. of Psychol., State Univ. of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, NY 11794-2500
Most studies of lexical access have ignored the possible effects of vocal expression. Words, however, always occur within a context, which can be either congruent or incongruent with the word's denotative meaning. Given the importance of vocal characteristics in differentiating between emotions, emotion words are likely candidates for identifying such congruence and incongruence effects. Subjects performed an auditory lexical decision task in which stimuli consisted of pure emotion adjectives presented in an emotional tone of voice. Stimuli were chosen to provide maximally distinct clusters of emotion adjectives as defined by a two-dimensional lexical space [R. L. Morgan and D. Heise, Soc. Psychol. Q. 51, 19--31 (1988)]. The meaning of the adjectives was either consonant or dissonant with the tone of voice in which the word was spoken. The results of this study clarify the conditions under which lexical access is inhibited and facilitated by the vocal expression of emotion.