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Memory for emotional words in the first and the second language: Effects of the encoding task*



Emotional words are better remembered than neutral words in the first language. Ferré, García, Fraga, Sánchez-Casas and Molero (2010) found this emotional effect also for second language words by using an encoding task focused on emotionality. The aim of the present study was to test whether the same effect can also be observed with encoding tasks not related to emotionality, as has been reported in monolinguals. We tested highly proficient bilinguals of Catalan and Spanish that were dominant in one of these two languages. At the encoding phase, we directed their attention to words’ features other than emotionality (participants had to either rate words’ concreteness or count the number of vowels they had). In both cases, we obtained an advantage for emotional words independently of the language in which they appeared. These results suggest that the emotional effect on memory has the same characteristics in the two languages of a bilingual.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Pilar Ferré, CRAMC and Department of Psychology, Rovira i Virgili University, Carretera de Valls, s/n. 43007-Tarragona,


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This work has been supported by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (PSI2009–12616 and Plan E), by the Autonomous Government of Catalonia (2009SGR-00401) and by the Autonomous Government of Galicia (INCITE09204014PR and CN2011/011). We would like to thank Jelena Havelka and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.



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