4aSC4. The adaptive value of connotation in speech perception.

Session: Thursday Morning, June 19

Author: Lee H. Wurm
Location: Dept. of Psych., SUNY, Binghamton, NY 13902-6000, lwurm@binghamton.edu
Author: Douglas A. Vakoch
Location: Vanderbilt Univ., Nashville, TN 37240


In previous work it was demonstrated that reaction times (RTs) in a lexical decision paradigm were related to words' ratings on the dimensions of evaluation, potency, and activity (independent of word frequency). This was found to be true of words in general [D. A. Vakoch and L. H. Wurm, Cognition and Emotion (in press)], and also of words from the affective lexicon [L. H. Wurm and D. A. Vakoch, Cognition and Emotion 10, 409--423 (1996)], but there were differences in the way these dimensions appeared to be used in each case. For emotion words, RTs were quickest for words that were rated as bad, strong, and fast (the evaluation x potency x activity interaction was significant), a finding interpreted in terms of the adaptiveness of danger avoidance. For words from the general lexicon, RTs were quickest to words that were rated as either good and strong, or good and fast, as though these represented resources that had to be seized quickly or lost. The current study clarifies the earlier findings, and expands the existing theory to include concepts such as the danger and usefulness of referents. [Work supported by AFOSR and NIMH.]

ASA 133rd meeting - Penn State, June 1997