Dissociating Affective and Semantic Valence

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We examined the possible dissociation between two modes of valence: affective valence (valence of e emotional response) and semantic valence (stored knowledge about valence of an object or event). In Experiment 1, 50 participants viewed affective pictures that were repeatedly presented while their facial electromyography (EMG) activation and heart rate response were continuously recorded. Half of the participants provided self-report ratings about the valence of their feelings and half about the valence of the stimulus. Next, all participants performed an affective Simon task. In Experiment 2, 30 new participants performed the affective Simon task with the repeated exposure embedded within the task. The results showed that measures related to affective valence (feelings-focused self-reports, heart rate, and facial EMG activations) attenuated with repeated exposure to pleasant and unpleasant pictures, whereas measures related to semantic valence (knowledge-focused self-reports and congruency effect of affective Simon task) did not. These findings strongly suggest that affective and semantic valence represent two distinct psychological constructs.

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