Danger and usefulness: An alternative framework for understanding rapid evaluation effects in perception?

Abstract

Previous studies have shown effects of rated danger and usefulness on lexical access. All of them have used stimuli selected for connotations of danger and/or usefulness. Stimuli for the present lexical decision study were all of the nouns, verbs, and adjectives from the Balota et al. (2002) English Lexicon Project (subject to constraints relating to experimental control; none had anything to do with danger or usefulness). The interaction between danger and usefulness ratings previously demonstrated (Wurm & Vakoch, 2000; Wurm, Vakoch, Seaman, & Buchanan, 2004; Wurm, Whitman, Seaman, Hill, & Ulstad, 2007) was found for nouns, even when age of acquisition was controlled. It was also found for verbs and adjectives. The interaction is believed to reflect competing pressures to (1) avoid dangerous objects/events and (2) approach valuable resources. It may be a manifestation of the rapid evaluation effects pervasive in the literature. Post hoc analyses showed that danger and usefulness explain as much variance as valence and arousal, or evaluation, potency, and activity.

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Correspondence to Lee H. Wurm.

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Wurm, L.H. Danger and usefulness: An alternative framework for understanding rapid evaluation effects in perception?. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 14, 1218–1225 (2007). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193116

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Keywords

  • Lexical Decision
  • Simon Effect
  • Lexical Access
  • Mental Lexicon
  • Common Noun