Gender, emotion, and the embodiment of language comprehension

Arthur Glenberg, Bryan J. Webster, Emily Mouilso, David Havas, Lisa M. Lindeman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Language comprehension requires a simulation that uses neural systems involved in perception, action, and emotion. A review of recent literature as well as new experiments support five predictions derived from this framework. 1. Being in an emotional state congruent with sentence content facilitates sentence comprehension. 2. Because women are more reactive to sad events and men are more reactive to angry events, women understand sentences about sad events with greater facility than men, and men understand sentences about angry events with greater facility than women. 3. Because it takes time to shift from one emotion to another, reading a sad sentence slows the reading of a happy sentence more for women than men, whereas reading an angry sentence slows the reading of a happy sentence more for men than for women. 4. Because sad states motivate affiliative actions and angry states motivate aggressive action, gender and emotional content of sentences interact with the response mode. 5. Because emotion simulation requires particular action systems, adapting those action systems will affect comprehension of sentences with emotional content congruent with the adapted action system. These results have implications for the study of language, emotion, and gender differences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
JournalEmotion Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009


  • Embodiment
  • Emotion
  • Gender
  • Language comprehension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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