Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology (MS)

Committee Member

Heredia, Roberto R.

Committee Member

Munoz, Monica

Committee Member

Ynalvez, Ruby A.


The thesis aims to explore bilingual emotion word processing. Participants performed a lexical decision task and decided whether presented letter strings displayed on the computer screen were legal words or nonwords. Stimuli consisted of positive emotion (i.e., hope), negative emotion (i.e., sad), and neutral (i.e., umbrella) words, as well as emotion-laden words (e.g. death, puppy). Reaction time and participant accuracy were collected as behavioral measures. In addition, participants’ electrophysiological responses were recorded. Specifically, the early posterior negativity (EPN) and late positive complex (LPC) components were recorded. Participants’ language dominance was measured using the Bilingual Dominance Scale (BDS) (Dunn & Fox-Tree, 2007). Bilinguals frequently report that they experience their second language (L2) to be less emotional than their native language (L1) and that despite knowing the emotional meaning of L2 words, they do not interpret them the same as words in their L1. However, previous studies have yielded inconsistent results regarding bilingual individuals’ behavioral and electrophysiological responses to positive and negative emotion words versus neutral words presented in the bilinguals’ L1 and L2. One possible reason for this discrepancy is that the status of the language (L1 vs. L2) does not necessarily correspond to a bilingual person’s dominance, in that one’s L2 can become their dominant language. By controlling for key factors (e.g., language dominance), we therefore aimed to examine whether it is primarily the status of the bilingual’s language (L1 vs L2) or language dominance that are more important in predicting a bilinguals’ response to L1 and L2 emotion word.