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Reduced Cross-Modal Affective Priming in the L2 of Late Bilinguals Depends on L2 Exposure

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  • Miriam S. Tenderini, Queen Mary University of London
  • ,
  • Esther de Leeuw, Queen Mary University of London
  • ,
  • Tiina M. Eilola, University of Leeds
  • ,
  • Marcus T. Pearce

Processing of emotional meaning is crucial in many areas of psychology, including language and music processing. This issue takes on particular significance in bilinguals because it has been suggested that bilinguals process affective words differently in their first (L1) and second, later acquired languages (L2). We undertook a series of five experiments examining affective priming between emotionally valenced language and emotionally valenced music. Adult English monolinguals and two groups of proficient adult late bilinguals (German-English and Italian-English) with recent L2 exposure were examined. Priming effects were investigated using music to prime word targets and words to prime music targets. For both groups of bilinguals, music showed equivalent affective priming of L1 and L2 words, suggesting no difference in deliberate processing of affective meaning. Conversely, when words primed music, L2 words lacked the affective priming strength of L1 words for both late bilingual groups. Among various language background factors, only greater length of residence in the L2 context was positively related to the affective priming strength of L2 words.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: Learning Memory and Cognition
Pages (from-to)284-303
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by grants from the Center for Mind in Society, the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, and the School of Languages Linguistics and Film at Queen Mary University of London

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. American Psychological Association

    Research areas

  • Affective priming, Bilinguals, Emotion, Music

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