Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Lee H. Wurm


A potential embodied influence in the semantic effects of Danger and Usefulness is investigated using Body-Object Interaction (BOI). Lexical decision times are influenced by ratings of Danger and Usefulness. In a frequently-found interaction, thought to be produced by activated approach-withdraw motor responses, increasing Danger ratings produce faster responses for items with lower Usefulness ratings while producing slower responses for items with higher Usefulness ratings. BOI is used to test the embodied explanation of this interaction. The same 102 words were presented in two lexical decision experiments. In both auditory and visual lexical decision, the effects of Danger and Usefulness were found to be larger for items with lower BOI ratings. BOI moderates Danger and Usefulness effects in both auditory and visual lexical decision, in a way that suggests BOI is either the stronger or the temporally earlier effect. In addition, a picture naming study was done using 101 items, looking at the same relationship. Picture naming results showed a stronger effect of Danger and Usefulness in items that are higher BOI rating suggesting there may be differences based on task modality or that the pattern may reflect response oscillation.