Event Title

Is that Cake Moist?: Contextual and Lexical Contributions to the Phenomenon of Word Aversion

Location

Diamond 122

Start Date

1-5-2014 9:00 AM

End Date

1-5-2014 10:30 AM

Project Type

Presentation- Restricted to Campus Access

Description

Word aversion has been defined as the visceral dislike of a word, independent of that words meaning. For instance, many people report a feeling of disgust upon saying or reading the word Moist, but very few report strong negative feelings towards synonyms of moist, such as damp or humid. We created a list of words with neutral meanings, for which many people report aversive feelings and had participants rate these words for emotional valence. Using information provided by the Affective Norming for English Words (ANEW) database, we created a scale for emotional valence and normed both the aversive words and their synonyms. We then gave participants a surprise free recall task following the rating to see whether certain words were more memorable than others, as well as to see whether the aversive words clustered together, indicating semantic association. Following norming, we conducted a series of experiments, aimed to determine what is driving the general dislike of aversive words. Our experiments utilize a software called Mouse Tracker, which allows us a nuanced look into whether context, morphology, or both play a role in our aversion to certain words. Experiment 1a was a priming study that manipulated the context in which words are presented. Aversive words and their synonyms were given positive contextual primes (e.g. cake - MOIST), negative contextual primes (e.g. skin - MOIST), or neutral primes (e.g. xxx - MOIST) and synonyms were primed with the same words in different scripts. Experiment 1b asked participants to rate aversive words along side positively and negatively valenced words from the ANEW and experiment 2 had participants rating unprimed nonwords, half of which had similar morphology to aversive words, and half of which did not.

Faculty Sponsor

Martha Arterberry

Sponsoring Department

Colby College. Psychology Dept.

CLAS Field of Study

Social Sciences

Event Website

http://www.colby.edu/clas

ID

307

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May 1st, 9:00 AM May 1st, 10:30 AM

Is that Cake Moist?: Contextual and Lexical Contributions to the Phenomenon of Word Aversion

Diamond 122

Word aversion has been defined as the visceral dislike of a word, independent of that words meaning. For instance, many people report a feeling of disgust upon saying or reading the word Moist, but very few report strong negative feelings towards synonyms of moist, such as damp or humid. We created a list of words with neutral meanings, for which many people report aversive feelings and had participants rate these words for emotional valence. Using information provided by the Affective Norming for English Words (ANEW) database, we created a scale for emotional valence and normed both the aversive words and their synonyms. We then gave participants a surprise free recall task following the rating to see whether certain words were more memorable than others, as well as to see whether the aversive words clustered together, indicating semantic association. Following norming, we conducted a series of experiments, aimed to determine what is driving the general dislike of aversive words. Our experiments utilize a software called Mouse Tracker, which allows us a nuanced look into whether context, morphology, or both play a role in our aversion to certain words. Experiment 1a was a priming study that manipulated the context in which words are presented. Aversive words and their synonyms were given positive contextual primes (e.g. cake - MOIST), negative contextual primes (e.g. skin - MOIST), or neutral primes (e.g. xxx - MOIST) and synonyms were primed with the same words in different scripts. Experiment 1b asked participants to rate aversive words along side positively and negatively valenced words from the ANEW and experiment 2 had participants rating unprimed nonwords, half of which had similar morphology to aversive words, and half of which did not.

http://digitalcommons.colby.edu/clas/2014/program/227