Does reading words differing in arousal load influence local vs. global scope of perception?

  • Kamil K. Imbir University of Warsaw, Faculty of Psychology
Keywords: word processing, arousal, Kimchi–Palmer task


This article examines how the arousing properties of words influence the local vs. global scope of perception in the Kimchi–Palmer task. It was assumed that arousal is a stimulus property that influences a person’s mental state. Suboptimal arousal (low or high) was expected to narrow the visual scope in comparison to optimal (moderate) arousal. Words varying in arousal (three levels) and matched for valence, concreteness, frequency of appearance, and length were read by 20 young adults (8 women and 12 men, Mage = 21.85, SD = 1.69). The participants were then asked about their scope of perception using the Kimchi–Palmer task, allowing for differentiation between the priority of processing on local versus global features of compound geometrical figures. The relationship between the arousal level of the words read and the subsequent cognitive scope followed the Yerkes-Dodson law in that stimuli inducing an intermediate arousal level (versus low or high level of arousal inducements) were associated with a broader, more global cognitive scope.


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