More than words (and faces): evidence for a Stroop effect of prosody in emotion word processing
Humans typically combine linguistic and nonlinguistic information to comprehend emotions. We adopted an emotion identification Stroop task to investigate how different channels interact in emotion communication. In experiment 1, synonyms of “happy” and “sad” were spoken with happy and sad prosody. Participants had more difficulty ignoring prosody than ignoring verbal content. In experiment 2, synonyms of “happy” and “sad” were spoken with happy and sad prosody, while happy or sad faces were displayed. Accuracy was lower when two channels expressed an emotion that was incongruent with the channel participants had to focus on, compared with the cross-channel congruence condition. When participants were required to focus on verbal content, accuracy was significantly lower also when prosody was incongruent with verbal content and face. This suggests that prosody biases emotional verbal content processing, even when conflicting with verbal content and face simultaneously. Implications for multimodal communication and language evolution studies are discussed.
Publication typeJournal article