Current literature suggests emotion-label words (e.g., sad) and emotion-laden words (e.g., funeral) are processed differently.  The central focus of the present study was to investigate how valence and emotion word type influence how words are processed. A satiation paradigm was used to characterize the relationship between the processing of emotion-label and emotion-laden words of positive and negative valence. It was hypothesized that, in addition to the standard slowed response times to satiated words, emotion-label words would exhibit greater satiation and priming effects than emotion-laden words.  Analyses indicated expected priming and satiation effects across a range of other stimulus characteristics. Neutral words, which were included as a comparison stimulus type for both valence and word type variables, were shown to elicit much slower reaction times than either emotion word type. The results of the present study indicate the importance of valence in word processing, even when other word characteristics and experimental variables are at play. Current models of word processing do not sufficiently account for emotional characteristics of words, and implications for word processing models are discussed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Language and emotions; Emotion and cognition; Reaction time

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Experimental Psychology (MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Psychology (CLA)


Tina Sutton

Advisor/Committee Member

Andrew Herbert

Advisor/Committee Member

Stephanie Kazanas


RIT – Main Campus

Plan Codes