Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology (MA)

Committee Chair

Heredia, Roberto R.


This thesis discusses two studies addressing how bilinguals process different types of emotional/emotional-laden English-Spanish words (positive [kiss-beso] vs. neutral [tool-herramienta] vs. negative [rotten-podrido]) from a Dimensional approach by looking at the two major emotional dimensions of valence (unpleasant to pleasant) and arousal (calm to excited). Study 1 extends Spanish norms to a bilingual population. A rating task for valence and arousal was used in which participants rated how the different word types made them feel on a 1-9 scale (Unhappy: Calm = 1 to Happy: Excited = 9). The results obtained were correlated with the original study suggesting valence is a better predictor of emotion than arousal. In study 2, bilinguals participated in a lexical decision task involving reaction time (RT) as an index of word processing, while completing Personality (NEO-FFI 3), Depression (BDI-II), and Anxiety (STAI) inventories. A two-way mixed linear effects model analysis showed a main effect for valence (positive, neutral, and negative words) and an interaction between Group1/Group2 (clinical vs. nonclinical) x Valence. This analysis showed slower processing of negative stimuli by both groups, while for positive stimuli, the nonclinical group demonstrated a faster processing as opposed to the clinical group (i.e., slower processing). Correlations of interest between the predictor variables such as neuroticism and the clinical groups revealed positive correlations (Group1 r = .62, p ≤ .01; Group2 r = .63, p ≤ .01), while the opposite pattern was seen with extraversion (Group1 r = -.28, p ≤ .01; Group2 r = -.31, p ≤ .01). Lastly, a multivariate multiple regression analysis revealed a marginally significant model in which the different word types were significantly affected by Group1: F(3,62) = 3.05 p ≤ .05, Agreeableness: F(3,62) = 2.71 p ≤ .05, and an interaction of Group1 and Conscientiousness: F(3,62) = 3.46 p ≤ .05. Results are discussed in relation to bilingual cognitive processing models and applications for bilingual counseling.