Modulating Effects of Emotional Properties of a Word on Early Phases of Word Processing

Assistance: Christina Müller
Financed by: The German Research Foundation (DFG)

2013–2017 / Project Head: Prof. Dr. Lars Kuchinke

Project Description

In the most recent word recognition research especially, it has proven possible to document well that the emotional properties of a word influence its processing. In particular, electrophysiological findings demonstrate here that such influences are already verifiable in early phases of word processing, and it has to be assumed that the effect of the emotional properties of a word occurs parallel to the word identification process.

While the 'affective primacy' hypothesis (Murphy and Zajonc, 1993) generally assumes that emotional processing can precede cognitive processing, this project is studying an alternative approach to word processing. Under the assumption that the effects of emotional words can be traced back to learned, affectively coloured lexico-semantic associations that are accompanied by faster processing and special attention control, the intention is to examine the role of such learned connections in the development of early emotional effects in the processing of words, together with the conditions for their development. In order to do so, with the help of electrophysiological measurements, the effect of newly learned affective associations and their interactions with further variables which modulate early word processing are to be observed. The intention is for the results of this study to help to expand existing word recognition models with affective processing mechanisms, and in this way to touch on central issues of emotion processing as well as of visual word recognition.

Project Head

Prof. Dr. Lars Kuchinke
IPU Berlin
Stromstr. 3b - Room 1.13
10555 Berlin


Project Assistant

Christina Müller
IPU Berlin
Stromstr. 3b - Room 1.03
10555 Berlin


Relevant Publications

  • Kuchinke, L., Fritsch, H, Müller, C. (2015). Evaluative conditioning of positive and negative valence affects P1 and N1 in verbal processing. Brain Research 1624, 405-413.
  • Kuchinke, L., Krause, B., Fritsch, N., Briesemeister B.B. (2014). A familiar font drives very early emotional effects in word recognition. Brain and Language, 137, 142-147.
  • Fritsch, N., Kuchinke, L. (2013). Acquired affective associations induce emotion effects in word recognition: an ERP study. Brain and Language 124(1), 75-83.