New paper at International Journal of Psychophysiology


Bilingual speakers frequently report experiencing greater emotional resonance in their first language 

compared to their second. In Experiment 1, Turkish university students who had learned English as a foreign 

language had reduced skin conductance responses (SCRs) when listening to emotional phrases in English 

compared to Turkish, an effect which was most pronounced for childhood reprimands. A second type of 

emotional language, reading out loud true and false statements, was studied in Experiment 2. Larger SCRs 

were elicited by lies compared to true statements, and larger SCRs were evoked by English statements 

compared to Turkish statements. In contrast, ratings of how strongly participants felt they were lying showed 

that Turkish lies were more strongly felt than English lies. Results suggest that two factors influence the 

electrodermal activity elicited when bilingual speakers lie in their two languages: arousal due to emotions 

associated with lying, and arousal due to anxiety about managing speech production in non-native language. 

Anxiety and emotionality when speaking a non-naive language need to be better understood to inform 

practices ranging from bilingual psychotherapy to police interrogation of suspects and witnesses. 


Click EmotionLyingNonnative.


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