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Does Vocabulary Affect Emotions?Science project video


Could the habitual vocabulary that we use affect the intensity of our emotions? Could simply changing our vocabulary create a shift in how we feel? There is science behind this idea, that vocabulary may be cause a conditioned response in how we respond to a situation. In this experiment, you will test out this theory.


Evaluate the effects of vocabulary on emotions.

Scientific Terms

Vocabulary, Conditioning, Emotions


The 20th century psychologist B.F. Skinner was famous for his experiment in conditioning, which involved associating a neutral stimulus with a conditioned stimulus. He showed a dog a steak, causing the dog to salivate. The steak was a conditioned stimulus, in that the steak was already associated with food, in the dog?s mind. Skinner then decided to ring a bell every time he put the steak in front of the dog. The bell alone was a "neutral" stimulus - because dog did not associate it with anything. However, after repeatedly presenting the steak while ringing the bell, the dog started to salivate when the bell was rung, without the steak being present! The bell changed from a neutral object to one that invoked an emotional and physiological response from the dog. In a similar way, when we habitually use a specific word or phrase; while we are experiencing strong emotions, that language becomes a conditioned stimulus.

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