Brightness differences influence the evaluation of affective pictures

Cognition and Emotion 27 (7):1225-1246 (2013)
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We explored the possibility of a general brightness bias: brighter pictures are evaluated more positively, while darker pictures are evaluated more negatively. In Study 1 we found that positive pictures are brighter than negative pictures in two affective picture databases (the IAPS and the GAPED). Study 2 revealed that because researchers select affective pictures on the extremity of their affective rating without controlling for brightness differences, pictures used in positive conditions of experiments were on average brighter than those used in negative conditions. Going beyond correlational support for our hypothesis, Studies 3 and 4 showed that brighter versions of neutral pictures were evaluated more positively than darker versions of the same picture. Study 5 revealed that people categorised positive words more quickly than negative words after a bright picture prime, and vice versa for negative pictures. Together, these studies provide strong support for the hypotheses that picture brightness influences evaluations.



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Daniël Lakens
Eindhoven University of Technology

References found in this work

Perceptual symbol systems.Lawrence W. Barsalou - 1999 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22 (4):577-660.
The measurement of meaning.Charles Egerton Osgood - 1957 - Urbana,: University of Illinois Press. Edited by Donald C. Hildum.

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