Valence vs Evaluation in Affective Priming

Turkish Affective Norms Database (TUDADEN)

The Turkcede Duygusal Anlamsal ve Degersel Normlar (TUDADEN) (Smith & Gökçay, 2009). has been developed to provide a set of normative emotional ratings for a large number of words in the Turkish language. The goal was to develop a set of verbal materials that have been assessed in terms of the affective dimensions of valence (pleasant-unpleasant), arousal, and dominance/control, as well as word frequency. This database is the equivalent of the ANEW (Affective Norms for English Words).

Limitations of dimensional accounts of emotion

The TUDADEN norms – and the factor and principle components analysis that underlie the dimensions used by TUDADEN – are based on participants’ subjective feelings in response to the stimulus words, and to this extent the measured emotion involves highly processed stimuli. More highly processed emotional responses such as evaluation may thus be expected to interact with (and be confounded with) simple valence as a basic pleasure or pain dimension which may be expected to be more automatic, fast acting and unconscious – according to the dual process account.

Thus 3 dimensional – valence, arousal and control – account of emotion may thus be misleading. Simple valence of stimuli, on this view, may be confounded with normative evaluations. This distinction indeed is not made in the dimensional literature. For instance Fontaine et al (2007) call their first dimension evaluation/pleasantness, not distinguishing the two. The original factor analytic studies conducted by Osgood et al (1957) consistently differentiated three factors underlying semantic judgements (i.e. judgements of the meaning of words) which they referred to as an ‘evaluative’ factor, a ‘potency’ factor, and an ‘activity’ factor. While these factors resemble the emotional factors assumed in ANEW (Bradley & Lang, 1999) and other dimensional views of emotional responses to stimuli, they are in fact based on semantic judgements based on the meanings of the terms judged, not judgements of subjectively experienced emotion.

There is evidence that good-bad, socially sanctioned/normative evaluations of stimuli can be dissociated from pleasant-unpleasant subjective emotional responses to stimuli – for example, smoker’s responses to pictures of cigarette smoking (De Houwer, et al. 2006). Some words such as ‘hardworking’, ‘hospital’,  ‘diet’ or ‘exercise’, may be rated highly in an evaluative/normative scale but negative in a valence (pleasure-pain) scale. Other words such as ‘naked’, ‘gossip’, ‘alcohol’ or ‘cigarette’ may rate highly on the valence scale but low on the evaluative scale. Some words like ‘judge’ or ‘diploma’ may be high in evaluation but neutral in valence, while others such as ‘cake’ or ‘sun’ may be high in valence but neutral in evaluation.

Experiment 1:  Adding Validated Evaluative Dimension to TUDADEN

While words are rated in a way that is slow, conscious and fully processed – thus confounding simple automatic and normative/evaluative components of emotional response to stimuli, it is still the case that sometimes stimuli in the valence dimension can be dissociated in terms of hedonics and evaluation – as we have seen in the words above. For the TUDADEN database we propose adding normative ratings for evaluations of the verbal stimuli – in terms of correct/ good/praiseworthy/valuable or incorrect/ bad/blameworthy/worthless – in addition to the affective ‘valence’ (pleasure vs pain) norms.

We will direct raters to specifically evaluate based on EITHER ‘pleasure’ or ‘goodness/worthiness’.

It would be of interest to what extent the evaluative dimension correlated with the valence dimension, and with what words there was a dissociation. For this evaluative rating scale we need to ensure face validity, test item normality/standardization, test-retest reliability of ratings, etc – as with the other dimensions.

An example design for the evaluative rating instrument is attached at the end of this proposal (Appendix 1).

Experiment 2:  Speeded Response Validation of Hedonics vs Evaluation Dimensions

Basic pleasure-pain hedonic responses are assumed to be ‘low level’ and dissociable from elaborated, evaluation and inference that accompanies conscious emotion. We may dissociate measurement of fast/automatic from slow/controlled emotional response by employing a fast forced-choice paradigm. The subject is asked to quickly categorize a word stimulus as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. Forcing a quick response (<500msec) will be expected to minimize the influence of slower acting, conscious/controlled evaluation in appraising ‘positivity’. This method should yield reliable (test-retest) valence judgements of words that are controlled for familiarity/frequency. Allowing more time (>1000msec) for making the ‘positive’ vs ‘negative’ choice should reveal the interactive (or suppressive) effects of cognitive ‘evaluations’ on the lower level valence response, thereby dissociating the two components of valence rating, assuming a dual process account (Baumeister et al, 2008).

Experiment 3:  Affective Priming: Valence and Normative Evaluation

Semantic priming effects are known to have different time courses than affective valence-based priming effects. Effects are apparent at SOAs of >1000msec with semantic priming, while affective priming occurs with 150 msec SOAs – SOAs of half a second or longer negate the effect. Controlling for hedonic and semantic associations, in this experiment we can investigate whether there is such a phenomenon as normative priming, what it’s time course is.

For example, is there ‘goodness’ priming effect between evaluation-congruent words like ‘exercise’, ‘dieting’ ‘charity’ and ‘morality’ which may be neutral or negative in valence/hedonics, and have no semantic relatedness except for the fact that they are all evaluated positively in a normative sense.


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Normative Rating Instrument