[PS-2.27] Emotional resonance in native and foreign language processing.

Iacozza, S. 2 & Duñabeitia, J. A. 1

1 BCBL-Basque Centre on Cognition, Brain and Language
2 Max Planck Istitute for Psycholiguistics

The processing of foreign languages is suggested to be governed by certain levels of emotional distance. In this study we investigated whether reading emotionally charged sentences in a foreign language resulted in a reduction of the level of two indices of autonomic reactivity of the sympathetic nervous system: the pupil size and the electrodermal activity. We conducted two experiments with native Spanish speakers with high English proficiency. In Experiment 1, one group of participants completed an overt reading task, and in Experiment 2 a different group completed a covert reading task. In the two experiments materials included sentences presented either in participants? native or foreign language. The results showed an asymmetry in the emotional resonance elicited by the sentences in native and foreign-language contexts which was mainly evident in the overt reading task. This suggests a different pattern of emotional reactivity in bilinguals, depending on whether the task involves active language production or silent reading, suggesting that producing emotionally charged content involves deeper emotional processing than simply comprehending. This study shows that the foreign language effects are pervasive enough to affect automatic responses associated with emotional processing, but they may be reduced when emotional resonance is not enhanced by production.