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The Emotion Code in Sensory Modalities

An Investigation of the Relationship Between Sensorimotor Dimensions and Emotional Valence-Arousal

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Chinese Lexical Semantics (CLSW 2022)

Part of the book series: Lecture Notes in Computer Science ((LNAI,volume 13496))

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Human sensations and emotions are our primary embodied feelings in experiencing the outside world. The two systems are closely intertwined and jointly contribute to cognitive processes such as language use. However, how the two systems interact as manifested in our languages is still not well understood. This paper utilizes perceptual strengths and affective ratings to delve into the interaction between specific sensory modalities and emotional valence-arousal in Chinese. We found that smell and interoception, considered the two sensations directly linked to emotional processing, are more emotional and can elicit higher arousal levels than words associated with other senses. This study demonstrates the relevance and significance of the relationship between sensorimotor and affective information. It further sheds light on the embodied effect and associated emotional implications in the Chinese language.

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  1. 1.

    Note that the five traditional sensory modalities, i.e., visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, and tactile senses, mainly detect signals from the external stimuli rather than from the inner body.

  2. 2.

    Another reason for omitting dominant action effectors is because almost all the action effectors jointly shared a dominant place with other effectors in [9] since action strength is relatively low for noun concepts. Therefore, considering the statistical power, we will mainly focus on sensory modalities in this paper.

  3. 3.

    Note the words in the two datasets were both from a Mega study of Lexical Decision in Simplified Chinese (MELD-SCH, Tsang et al. [22]).

  4. 4.

    Absolute valence is achieved by subtracting the mean of all valence ratings from each rating and then taking the absolute value.

  5. 5.

    JASP is a free and open-source program for statistical analysis.


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This work is supported by the dean’s reserve grant (1-ZVTL) from the Faculty of Humanities at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

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Correspondence to Yin Zhong .

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Zhong, Y., Ahrens, K. (2023). The Emotion Code in Sensory Modalities. In: Su, Q., Xu, G., Yang, X. (eds) Chinese Lexical Semantics. CLSW 2022. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 13496. Springer, Cham.

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