Skip to main content Accessibility help

The auditory and visual appraisal of emotion-related words in Spanish–English bilinguals



Bilinguals experience emotions differently depending on which language they are speaking. Emotionally loaded words were expected to be appraised differently in the first versus the second language in Spanish–English bilinguals. Three categories of words (positive, negative, and taboo) were appraised in both languages in the visual and auditory sensory modalities. Positive word ratings were more positive in English than in Spanish. Negative words were judged as more negative in English than in Spanish. Taboo words were rated as more negative in Spanish than in English. Significant regression models were obtained for the visual and auditory positive words and auditory negative words with English and Spanish proficiency as the most significant predictors. Results support the view that there are differences in the appraisal of emotions in the two languages spoken by bilinguals; the direction of the difference depends on the emotion category of words, and it is influenced by language proficiency.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Mónica Rosselli, Department of Psychology, Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, Florida Atlantic University, 3200 College Ave, Davie, FL 33314,


Hide All

Our most sincere gratitude to Valeria Torres, Deven Christopher and AmberRose Reale for their editorial support.

Supplementary material can be found online at



Hide All
Altarriba, J. (2008). Expressions of emotions as mediated by context. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 11, 165167. doi:10.1017/S1366728908003295
Altarriba, J., & Basnight-Brown, D. M. (2010). The representation of emotion vs. emotion-laden words in english and spanish in the affective simon task. International Journal of Bilingualism, doi:10.1177/1367006910379261
Anooshian, L. J., & Hertel, P. T. (1994). Emotionality in free recall: Language specificity in bilingual memory. Cognition and Emotion, 8, 503514. doi:10.1080/02699939408408956
Ayçiçeği, A., & Harris, C. L. (2004). Brief report: Bilinguals' recall and recognition of emotion words. Cognition and Emotion, 18, 977987. doi:10.1080/02699930341000301
Ayçiçegi-Dinn, A., & Caldwell-Harris, C. (2009). Emotion-memory effects in bilingual speakers: A levels-of-processing approach. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 12, 291303. doi:10.1017/S1366728909990125
Bond, M. H., & Lai, T. (1986). Embarrassment and code-switching into a second language. The Journal of Social Psychology, 126, 179186.
Bradley, M. M., & Lang, P. J. (1999). Affective norms for English words (ANEW): Instruction manual and affective ratings. (No. C-1). University of Florida: The Center for Research in Psychophysiology.
Bradley, M. M., Greenwald, M. K., Petry, M. C., & Lang, P. J. (1992). Remembering pictures: Pleasure and arousal in memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 18, 379390.
Bradley, M. M., & Lang, P. J. (1994). Measuring emotion: The self-assessment manikin and the semantic differential. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 25, 4959. doi:
Caldwell-Harris, C., & Ayçiçeği-Dinn, A. (2009). Emotion and lying in a non-native language. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 71 (3), 193204. doi:10.1016/j.ijpsycho.2008.09.006
Chen, P., Lin, J., Chen, B., Lu, C., & Guo, T. (2015). Processing emotional words in two languages with one brain: ERP and fMRI evidence from Chinese–English bilinguals. Cortex, 71, 3448.
Colbeck, K. L., & Bowers, J. S. (2012). Blinded by taboo words in L1 but not L2. Emotion, 12, 217222. doi:10.1037/a0026387
Conrad, M., Recio, G., & Jacobs, A. M. (2011). The time course of emotion effects in first and second language processing: A cross-cultural ERP study with German-Spanish bilinguals. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 351. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00351; 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00351
De Leersnyder, J., Mesquita, B., & Kim, H. S. (2011). Where do my emotions belong? A study of immigrants’ emotional acculturation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 37 (4), 451463. doi:10.1177/0146167211399103
Dewaele, J.M. (2004). The emotional force of swearwords and taboo words in the speech of multilinguals. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 25, 204222.
Dewaele, J.M. (2008). The emotional weight of “I love you” in multilinguals’ languages. Journal of Pragmatics, 40, 17531780.
Dewaele, J. M. (2011). Self-reported use and perception of the L1 and L2 among maximally proficient bi-and multilinguals: a quantitative and qualitative investigation. International journal of the sociology of language, 2011 (208), 2551.
Dewaele, J. M. (2013). Multilingualism and Emotions. In Chapelle, C. (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics (pp. 17). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.
Dewaele, J. M. (2016). Thirty shades of offensiveness: L1 and LX English users’ understanding, perception and self-reported use of negative emotion-laden words. Journal of Pragmatics, 94, 112127.
Dewaele, J. M., & Costa, B. (2013). Multilingual clients’ experience of psychotherapy. Language and Psychoanalysis, 2, 3150.
Dewaele, J.M., & Pavlenko, A. (2001). Web questionnaire bilingualism and emotions. London: University of London.
Dewaele, J.M., & Pavlenko, A. (2002). Emotion Vocabulary in Interlanguage. Language Learning 52 (2), 263322.
Eilola, T. M., & Havelka, J. (2011). Behavioural and physiological responses to the emotional and taboo Stroop tasks in native and non-native speakers of English. International Journal of Bilingualism, 15 (3), 353369.
Eilola, T. M., Havelka, J., & Sharma, D. (2007). Emotional activation in the first and second language. Cognition and Emotion, 21, 10641076. doi:10.1080/02699930601054109
Ferré, P., García, T., Fraga, I., Sànchez-Casas, R., & Molero, M. (2010). Memory for emotional words in bilinguals: Do words have the same emotional intensity in the first and in the second language? Cognition and Emotion, 24, 760785. doi:10.1080/02699930902985779
Harris, C. L. (2004). Bilingual speakers in the lab: Psychophysiological measures of emotional reactivity. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 25, 223247.
Harris, C. L., Ayçiçegi, A., & Gleason, J. B. (2003). Taboo words and reprimands elicit greater autonomic reactivity in a first language than in a second language. Applied Psycholinguistics, 24 (04), 561. doi:10.1017/S0142716403000286
Hsu, C. T., Jacobs, A. M., & Conrad, M. (2015). Can Harry Potter still put a spell on us in a second language? An fMRI study on reading emotion-laden literature in late bilinguals. Cortex, 63, 282295.
IBM Corp. (Released, 2014). IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 23.0. Armonk, NY: IBM Corp.
Marian, V., Blumenfeld, H. K., & Kaushanskaya, M. (2007). The language experience and proficiency questionnaire (LEAP-Q): Assessing language profiles in bilinguals and multilinguals. Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, 50, 940.
Morris, J. D. (1995). Observations: SAM: The self-assessment manikin; an efficient cross-cultural measurement of emotional response. Journal of Advertising Research, 35, 6368.
Opitz, B., & Degner, J. (2012). Emotionality in a second language: It's a matter of time. Neuropsychologia, 50 (8), 19611967. doi:10.1016/j.neuropsychologia.2012.04.021
Pavlenko, A. (2008). Emotion and emotion-laden words in the bilingual lexicon. Bilingualism: Language and Cognition, 11, 147164.
Pavlenko, A. (2012). Affective processing in bilingual speakers: Disembodied cognition? International Journal of Psychology, 47 (6), 405428. doi:10.1080/00207594.2012.743665
Ponari, M., Rodríguez-Cuadrado, S., Vinson, D., Fox, N., Costa, A., & Vigliocco, G. (2015). Processing advantage for emotional words in bilingual speakers. Emotion, 15 (5), 644.
Redondo, J., Fraga, I., Padrón, I., & Comesaña, M. (2007). The spanish adaptation of ANEW (affective norms for english words). Behavior Research Methods, 39, 600605. doi:10.3758/BF03193031
Rubin, D. C., & Friendly, M. (1986). Predicting which words get recalled: Measures of free recall, availability, goodness, emotionality, and pronunciability for 925 nouns. Memory & Cognition, 14 (1), 7994.
Sutton, T. M., Altarriba, J., Gianico, J. L., & Basnight-Brown, D. (2007). The automatic access of emotion: Emotional stroop effects in Spanish–English bilingual speakers. Cognition and Emotion, 21, 10771090. doi:10.1080/02699930601054133
Winskel, H. (2013). The emotional Stroop task and emotionality rating of negative and neutral words in late Thai–English bilinguals. International Journal of Psychology, 48 (6), 10901098.
Zea, M. C., Asner-Self, K. K., Birman, D., & Buki, L. P. (2003). The abbreviated multidimentional acculturation scale: Empirical validation with two Latino/Latina samples. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 9, 107.


Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Vélez-Uribe and Rosselli supplementary material 1

 Word (61 KB)
61 KB

The auditory and visual appraisal of emotion-related words in Spanish–English bilinguals



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed