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Behav. Sci. 2018, 8(6), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/bs8060056

Affective Congruence between Sound and Meaning of Words Facilitates Semantic Decision

1
Department of Experimental and Neurocognitive Psychology, Freie Universität Berlin, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, D-14195 Berlin, Germany
2
Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience Berlin (CCNB), D-14195 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 April 2018 / Revised: 23 May 2018 / Accepted: 27 May 2018 / Published: 31 May 2018
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Abstract

A similarity between the form and meaning of a word (i.e., iconicity) may help language users to more readily access its meaning through direct form-meaning mapping. Previous work has supported this view by providing empirical evidence for this facilitatory effect in sign language, as well as for onomatopoetic words (e.g., cuckoo) and ideophones (e.g., zigzag). Thus, it remains largely unknown whether the beneficial role of iconicity in making semantic decisions can be considered a general feature in spoken language applying also to “ordinary” words in the lexicon. By capitalizing on the affective domain, and in particular arousal, we organized words in two distinctive groups of iconic vs. non-iconic based on the congruence vs. incongruence of their lexical (meaning) and sublexical (sound) arousal. In a two-alternative forced choice task, we asked participants to evaluate the arousal of printed words that were lexically either high or low arousing. In line with our hypothesis, iconic words were evaluated more quickly and more accurately than their non-iconic counterparts. These results indicate a processing advantage for iconic words, suggesting that language users are sensitive to sound-meaning mappings even when words are presented visually and read silently. View Full-Text
Keywords: sound-meaning mappings; sound symbolism; effect of sound on meaning; semantic decision task; neurocognitive poetics; processing fluency; poetry sound-meaning mappings; sound symbolism; effect of sound on meaning; semantic decision task; neurocognitive poetics; processing fluency; poetry
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
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Aryani, A.; Jacobs, A.M. Affective Congruence between Sound and Meaning of Words Facilitates Semantic Decision. Behav. Sci. 2018, 8, 56.

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