Article published in:Emotion words in the monolingual and bilingual lexicon
Edited by Jeanette Altarriba, Aneta Pavlenko and Norman Segalowitz
[The Mental Lexicon 3:1] 2008
► pp. 9–28
The adolescent emotional maelstrom
Do adolescents process and control emotion-laden words differently to adults?
To determine how differences in emotion representation and/or inhibitory ability affect adolescents’ responses to emotion words, 13-yr and 16-yr olds, as well as adults, were compared on the processing of emotion-laden and neutral words. Word ratings revealed that 16-yr olds tended towards perceiving all words as more arousing than did adults, irrespective of valence. Also, they rated words more negatively than 13-yr olds. Performance on an Affective Simon task revealed a marked incongruency effect only for 13-yr olds (and then only for negative words) but not for 16-yr olds (who responded fastest) or adults. Performance on a sustained attention task confirmed the expected age-related increase in inhibitory ability and a concomitant increase in response latencies. Our conclusions are two-fold. First, there are age-related differences in lexical representation which appear more marked for 16-yr olds. Second, 16-yr olds are more reactive, irrespective of the emotional content they are processing, yet appear to control its impact as efficiently as adults.
Published online: 07 April 2008