Dr Tiina Eilola

Dr Tiina Eilola is a Lecturer and Head of Teaching in Psychology at Queen Mary, University of London.

Research interests

My research interests involve the relationship between language and emotions.


One of the central research questions is whether emotional content is processed differently in bilinguals’ first (L1) and second language (L2). This research is motivated by the fact that bilinguals often perceive their mother tongue to be more potent in its emotional impact than later acquired languages.


My focus is on investigating the processing of single emotional words in bilinguals’ L1 and L2, using both behavioural (e.g. lexical decision and emotional Stroop tasks) and psychophysiological techniques (ERPs, skin conductance recording).


My studies with proficient, unbalanced Finnish-English, German-English and Greek-English bilinguals suggests that emotional words in L2 can activate emotional meanings fast and automatically. Yet, such rapid access of word meaning, and the increased allocation of attentional resources to emotional word processing, may not lead to equally high level of physiological arousal in L2 than is the case in L1 (Eilola, Havelka & Sharma, 2007; Eilola & Havelka, in press).


This reduced physiological responsiveness may be contributing to the perceived lack of emotional immediacy in L2.


I have also collected affective ratings for 210 British English and Finnish words, available from the Psychonomic Journals website.


This dataset includes the normative ratings of emotional valence, emotional charge, offensiveness, concreteness and familiarity (Eilola & Havelka, 2010). These ratings will help researchers to select stimulus materials for a wide range of experiments involving both monolingual and bilingual processing of British English and Finnish emotional words.