Perceiving verbal and vocal emotions in a second language

Chua, Shi Min and Schirmer, Annette (2011). Perceiving verbal and vocal emotions in a second language. Cognition and Emotion, 25(8) pp. 1376–1392.



Emotional inferences from speech require the integration of verbal and vocal emotional expressions. We asked whether this integration is comparable when listeners are exposed to their native language and when they listen to a language learned later in life. To this end, we presented native and non-native listeners with positive, neutral and negative words that were spoken with a happy, neutral or sad tone of voice. In two separate tasks, participants judged word valence and ignored tone of voice or judged emotional tone of voice and ignored word valence. While native listeners outperformed non-native listeners in the word valence task, performance was comparable in the voice task. More importantly, both native and non-native listeners responded faster and more accurately when verbal and vocal emotional expressions were congruent as compared to when they were incongruent. Given that the size of the latter effect did not differ as a function of language proficiency, one can conclude that the integration of verbal and vocal emotional expressions occurs as readily in one's second language as it does in one's native language.

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  • Item ORO ID
  • 48258
  • Item Type
  • Journal Item
  • ISSN
  • 1464-0600
  • Keywords
  • emotion; prosody; bilingualism; speech
  • Academic Unit or School
  • Institute of Educational Technology (IET)
  • Copyright Holders
  • © 2011 Psychology Press
  • Depositing User
  • Shi-Min Chua