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The Distinctiveness of Emotion Concepts: A Comparison between Emotion, Abstract, and Concrete Words

Jeanette Altarriba and Lisa M. Bauer
The American Journal of Psychology
Vol. 117, No. 3 (Autumn, 2004), pp. 389-410
DOI: 10.2307/4149007
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4149007
Page Count: 22
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The Distinctiveness of Emotion Concepts: A Comparison between Emotion, Abstract, and Concrete Words
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Abstract

Are the concepts represented by emotion words different from abstract words in memory? We examined the distinct characteristics of emotion concepts in 3 separate experiments. The first demonstrated that emotion words are better recalled than both concrete and abstract words in a free recall task. In the second experiment, ratings of abstract, concrete, and emotion words were compared on concreteness, imageability, and context availability scales. Results revealed a difference between all 3 word types on each of the 3 scales. The third experiment investigated priming in a lexical decision task for homogeneous (abstract-abstract and emotion-emotion) and heterogeneous (abstract-emotion and emotion-abstract) associated word pairs. Priming occurred only for the homogeneous and heterogeneous abstract-emotion word pair conditions. Possible explanations for these findings are discussed in terms of the circumplex, hierarchical, and semantic activation models. The results are most consistent with the predictions of the semantic activation model.

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