Event Abstract

Valence, and arousal ratings for Hellenic words by young, middle-aged, and older adults

  • 1 Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Greece
  • 2 The University of Sheffield International Faculty, City College, Department of Psychology, Greece

Successful socioemotional communication is fundamental to healthy and stable relationships at any age. Emotional language (speech, and written text) represents subjective self-report of (affective) experiences, daily life inner thoughts and feelings in a comprehendible form that others can perceive and understand. Little is known on whether the emotional meaning of a word changes as a function of age, namely if the meaning remains stable across the adult lifespan. Given that social, affective and cognitive aspects of human life evolve along different trajectories across the lifespan, there is evidence that older adults process emotional information (i.e. words, pictures) differently than younger adults so as to promote a relatively high emotional well-being in spite of the age-related functional decline. The current study investigates the evolution of emotional processing of Hellenic nouns, adjectives, and verbs over the adult lifespan as a function of stimulus valence and arousal. Valence refers to the extent to which a word may elicit pleasure or displeasure. Arousal refers to the level of emotional activation a word relates to, ranging from excitement to calm. To this end, self-reported affective evaluations prompted by pleasant, unpleasant, and (non-) arousing words were measured in a sample of native Hellenic speakers (n= 84) spread across six decades ranging from 18 to 79 years. The design of the present study was cross sectional as participants were divided in young (n= 25, mean age= 24.56±5.55), middle-aged (n= 33, mean age= 49.82±4.81), and older (n= 26, mean age= 68.04±6.64) adults according to the variable of age. We used a digitized set of 120 words, which formed three combinations of valence and arousal; 40 high valenced-high arousing (HV) words, 40 low valenced-high arousing (LV) words, and 40 neutral valenced-low arousing (NV) words. Mean valence ratings were submitted to a mixed ANOVA with age as the between subject factor (young, middle-aged and older) and valence as the within subject factor (HV, LV, and NV). Our findings regarding the effect of age indicate that older adults rated the words more positively (higher valence, 5.01) than middle-aged (4.51) and young adults (4.64), p < .0001 and p = .015, respectively. The main effect of valence revealed significant differences in valence rating between the three valence conditions (HVmean= 7.36, NVmean= 4.866, and LVmean= 1.93), p < .0001. The age by valence interaction indicates that for the HV condition, older adults gave higher rating (7.71) than young adults (6.99), p = 0.01, while for the LV condition, young adults (2.22) gave higher valence rating than middle-aged adults (1.65), p = .001. Finally, for the NV condition, older adults (5.04) gave higher rating than middle-aged (4.49) and young adults (4.71), p = .001 and p = .03, respectively. Results for the mean arousal ratings with age as the between subject factor and valence as the within subject factor in a mixed ANOVA, showed that older adults had higher arousal (6.18) ratings as compared to the young adults (5.411), p = .023. In addition, there were significant differences between the NV (4.10), and the HV (6.59) and LV (6.61) conditions, p < .0001. Finally, our findings regarding valence and arousal associations for each age group and each word condition, revealed a strong negative correlation between valence and arousal ratings for the LV condition; the lower the valence ratings for the older adults, the higher the arousal ratings. Strong positive correlations between valence and arousal were found for the NV condition for both the middle and older age groups. Similarly, for the PV condition, strong positive correlations between valence and arousal ratings were found for the young and older adults. Thus, the higher the valence ratings, the greater the arousal ratings, for neutral and pleasant words. The findings of the present study are in line with previous results, and provide new evidence that the processing of emotional words is affected by age. In particular, older adults give higher ratings for valence, and rate pleasant and neutral words more positively, and unpleasant words less negatively as compared to both young and middle-aged adults. In addition, older adults give higher arousal ratings. Consequently, making available emotional ratings of words for young, middle-aged and older adults could be of great interest for researchers investigating age-related differences.


This research was supported by the European CIP-ICT- PSP.2008.1.4 Long Lasting memories (LLM) project (Project No. 238904) (www.longlastingmemories.eu), as well as, its subsequent business exploitation scheme, namely, LLM Care, which is a self-funded initiative at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (www.llmcare.gr).

Keywords: Aging, ratings, Valence, Arousal, Hellenic words, age differences

Conference: SAN2016 Meeting, Corfu, Greece, 6 Oct - 9 Oct, 2016.

Presentation Type: Poster Presentation in SAN2016 Conference

Topic: Posters

Citation: Styliadis C, Vivas AB, Zacharopoulos C, Zilidou VI, Paraskevopoulos E and Bamidis PD (2016). Valence, and arousal ratings for Hellenic words by young, middle-aged, and older adults. Conference Abstract: SAN2016 Meeting. doi: 10.3389/conf.fnhum.2016.220.00102

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Received: 29 Jul 2016; Published Online: 01 Aug 2016.

* Correspondence: Dr. Panagiotis D Bamidis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Thessaloniki, 54124, Greece, bamidis@med.auth.gr

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