Emotional Activation in Bilingual Spanish-English Speakers

Janet C Carmona, Pace University


Emotional activation refers to the phenomenon whereby words with emotional content produce emotional arousal in the individuals experiencing them. Studying emotional activation can assist us in better understanding the relationship between language and emotion and the mechanisms that cause emotional language to be processed differently by bilingual individuals than by monolingual individuals. Using an emotional and taboo Stroop task, this study sought to examine whether Spanish-English bilingual speakers react differently toward highly charged emotional words and taboo words in comparison to less emotionally charged words and whether such an effect is stronger in Spanish than in English. A total of 62 self-report Spanish-English bilinguals (49 females, 11 males, 2 unreported) participated in an online emotional Stroop Test in responding to positive, neutral, and negative emotion words, as well as taboo words, presented in both Spanish and English. Interference effects were found to be higher in Spanish (L1) than in English (L2) for all word type categories except English/taboo, which exhibited the highest interference effect overall. No significant interaction effects were found between language and word type. Results support previous findings that, for bilinguals who are not in a L1 dominant environment, emotional activation is heavily impacted by L2.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Carmona, Janet C, "Emotional Activation in Bilingual Spanish-English Speakers" (2017). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI10669687.



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