The effects of age and gender on the perception of lexical emotion

Ilana S. Grunwald, Joan C. Borod, Loraine K. Obler, Hulya M. Erhan, Lawrence H. Pick, Joan Welkowitz, Nancy K. Madigan, Martin Sliwinski, John Whalen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


The primary purpose of this study was to examine the perception of lexical/verbal emotion across the adult life span. Secondary goals were to examine the contribution of gender and valence (i.e., pleasantness/unpleasantness) to the processing of lexical emotional stimuli. Participants were 28 young (ages 20-39), 28 middle-aged (ages 40-59), and 28 older (ages 60-85) right-handed adults; there were 14 men and 14 women in each age group. Age groups were comparable on demographic and cognitive variables. Participants made accuracy judgments and intensity ratings of emotional (both positive and negative) and nonemotional stimuli from lexical perception tasks from the New York Emotion Battery (Borod, Welkowitz, and Obler, 1992). Accuracy and intensity measures were not significantly correlated. When age was examined, older participants perceived emotional and nonemotional lexical stimuli with significantly less accuracy than did younger and middle-aged participants. On the other hand, older participants evaluated the nonemotional lexical stimuli as significantly more intense than younger participants. When gender was examined, lexical stimuli were processed more accurately by female than male participants. Further, emotional stimuli were rated more intense by female participants. Clinical implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-238
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Neuropsychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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