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The current study set out to examine the underlying physiological mechanisms of and the emotional response associated with word learning success in young 3-year-old predominantly white children. In particular, we examined whether children's physiological arousal following a word learning task predicts their word learning success and whether successful learning in turn predicts children's subsequent positive emotions. We presented children (n = 50) with a cross-situational word learning task and measured their pupillary arousal following completion of the task, as well as changes to their upper body posture following completion of the task, as indices of children's emotions following task completion. Children who showed greater physiological arousal following the novel word recognition task (n = 40) showed improved subsequent word recognition performance. We found that children showed more elevated posture after completing a familiar word learning task compared to completing a novel word learning task (n = 33) but results on children's individual learning success and postural elevation were mixed. We discuss the findings with regards to children's affective involvement in word learning.

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Journal article


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Humans, Child, Child, Preschool, Verbal Learning, Learning, Arousal, Emotions, Pupil