College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-20-2017

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Sandra Virtue, PhD

Second Advisor

Joseph Mikels, PhD


During reading, individuals often need to activate mental representations of a character’s emotional state. Currently, little is known about how readers infer positive and negative character emotional states. Furthermore, the selective involvement of the two cerebral hemispheres in generating emotional inferences is unclear. In the current study, participants read texts that primed either a positive (Experiment 1) or negative (Experiment 2) emotion of a character in a text. Using a divided visual-field paradigm, participants performed a lexical decision task for target words congruent with the character’s emotional state, which were presented to either the left visual field-right hemisphere or right visual field-left hemisphere. Results showed significant priming in both hemispheres for negative emotion inferences. The pattern from the current study suggests a negativity bias, in which readers are faster to infer negative character emotions from a text than positive character emotions. Furthermore, these results suggest that both the right and left hemisphere are highly involved in generating negative emotion inferences from a text

SLP Collection


Included in

Psychology Commons