The Effect of Facial Emotion and Action Depiction on Situated Language Processing

Abstract

Two eye-tracking studies investigated the effect of emotions and actions on sentence processing. Positively valenced object-verb-subject (OVS) sentences were paired with a scene depicting three characters performing the described action (vs. no actions). These pairs were preceded by a positive prime (happy looking smiley: experiment 1; natural positive face: experiment 2). Previous research has demonstrated the effect of actions on the comprehension of OVS sentences (Knoeferle, Crocker, Scheepers, & Pickering, 2005). Moreover, emotional face primes facilitate sentence processing (Carminati & Knoeferle, 2013). We hypothesized that participants would profit from depicted events, and crucially that processing of OVS sentences might be positively affected by emotional cues. Regarding the emotion effects, we assessed how the appearance of the emotional face (smiley vs. natural) affects comprehension. Results replicate the action effects and the emotional priming effects are trending; descriptively they are more pronounced with natural faces (exp 2) than with smileys (exp 1).


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