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In the current study, we examined how the left and right hemispheres of the brain process emotion inferences during reading. In experiment 1, participants read brief texts that promoted either a positively-valenced (e.g., happy) or negatively-valenced (e.g., sad) character emotion. Participants then performed a divided visual field, lexical decision task for target words that were consistent (i.e., matched) with the character’s implied emotional state. Results showed that readers were faster to generate negative emotion inferences compared to positive emotion inferences in both cerebral hemispheres. In experiment 2, participants performed a divided visual field, lexical decision task for target words that were inconsistent (i.e., mismatched) with the character’s implied emotional state. Participants showed interference effects (i.e., longer response times) for the mismatching targets in both cerebral hemispheres. In addition, accuracies for the lexical decision task were significantly higher in the right hemisphere relative to the left hemisphere. In sum, these findings suggest that readers may be biased to infer negative character emotions relative to positive character emotions. In addition, results suggest that both hemispheres are highly involved in the generation of emotion inferences, with the right hemisphere less susceptible to the effects of inconsistent emotional information in a text.
Type of Research
Doctoral-Undergraduate Opportunity for Scholarship (DUOS)