The Interconnectivity of Word Interpretation and Emotional State [The University of North Carolina at Charlotte]
Keywords:Psycholinguistics, emotional state, word processing, ambiguous words, neutral words
The power of words to persuade, degrade, and implicate others is undeniable. Previous research (e.g. Lindquist, Satpute, & Gendron, 2015; Schnuerch et. al., 2016)support the hypothesis that emotions impact situational interpretation through studies of factors including perception of facial expression and tone of voice. The current study focused on the role of emotion in influencing word perception, specifically the perception of neutral words apparently void of positive or negative connotation. The research was governed by the hypothesis that when asked to rate the positivity of neutral words, participants’ ratings would mirror their levels of happiness. In other words, it was expected that a participant who was in a good mood during this study would rate neutral words more positively than a participant who was in a bad mood during this study. Sixty-two undergraduate students from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, aged 18-53, took part in this study. In an online survey, participants completed the Oxford Happiness Inventory quantifying their emotional state. They then rated the positivity of 25 neutral words on a scale where 1= extremely negative and 6 = extremely positive. This study found a significant, moderate positive correlation in the expected direction, supporting the hypothesis.
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