Contrast and Congruence Effects in Affective Priming of Words and Melodies

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We examined possible congruence and contrast effects during affective priming of linguistic and musical stimuli. In Experiment 1, when two words were presented auditorily, participants judged the affective content of the second item (happy or sad) faster when the affects matched (congruency), as expected. In Experiment 2, however, a contrast effect was observed with melodies, with slower responses in the matched conditions. In Experiment 3, two words, two melodies, or one of each were presented. A congruency effect was observed when the target was a musical stimulus (regardless of the prime type) but a contrast effect was observed when the target was a linguistic stimulus (again, regardless of the prime type). The results show that affective properties can influence the priming in both music and language. However, such priming is sensitive to the type of task, and strategic/expectancy effects play a large role when stimulus types are mixed.

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