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Does it matter how you ask? Self-reported emotions to depictions of need-of-help and social context.

Brielmann AA, Stolarova M - BMC Psychol (2015)

Bottom Line: The presence of a child and adult together increased pleasantness ratings compared to pictures in which they were depicted alone.Aggregated unipolar pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings accounted well for arousal and even better for bipolar valence ratings and for content effects on them.It also builds upon recent findings on the correspondence between emotional ratings on bipolar and unipolar scales.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology and Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz, Universitaetsstrasse 10, Konstanz, 78464 Germany.

ABSTRACT

Background: When humans observe other people's emotions they not only can relate but also experience similar affective states. This capability is seen as a precondition for helping and other prosocial behaviors. Our study aims to quantify the influence of help-related picture content on subjectively experienced affect. It also assesses the impact of different scales on the way people rate their emotional state.

Methods: The participants (N=242) of this study were shown stimuli with help-related content. In the first subset, half the drawings depicted a child or a bird needing help to reach a simple goal. The other drawings depicted situations where the goal was achieved. The second subset showed adults either actively helping a child or as passive bystanders. We created control conditions by including pictures of the adults on their own. Participants were asked to report their affective responses to the stimuli using two types of 9-point scales. For one half of the pictures, scales of arousal (calm to excited) and of bipolar valence (unhappy to happy) were employed; for the other half, unipolar scales of pleasantness and unpleasantness (strong to absent) were used.

Results: Even non-dramatic depictions of simple need-of-help situations were rated systematically lower in valence, higher in arousal, less pleasant and more unpleasant than corresponding pictures with the child or bird not needing help. The presence of a child and adult together increased pleasantness ratings compared to pictures in which they were depicted alone. Arousal was lower for pictures showing only an adult than for those including a child. Depictions of active helping were rated similarly to pictures showing a passive adult bystander, when the need-of-help was resolved. Aggregated unipolar pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings accounted well for arousal and even better for bipolar valence ratings and for content effects on them.

Conclusion: This is the first study to report upon the meaningful impact of harmless need-of-help content on self-reported emotional experience. It provides the basis for further investigating the links between subjective emotional experience and active prosocial behavior. It also builds upon recent findings on the correspondence between emotional ratings on bipolar and unipolar scales.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Example stimuli, trial and study sequence. Stimuli for each of ten situations were created in two subsets (A): the “need-of-help” subset (top) consisted of need-of-help / no-need-of-help picture pairs showing a boy/toddler, a girl, or a bird each in the same situation. The “social context” subset (bottom) included 4 picture categories with varying contexts. Need-of-help pictures are shown on light gray, those showing no-need-of-help on darker gray backgrounds. Note that ratings of one picture per situation were analyzed as part of both subsets, i.e. the child boy “no-need-of-help”/“child-alone” picture. Trial sequence was pseudo randomized and was the same for all 84 pictures (B, see Additional file 1). The study was divided in two halves (C).
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Fig1: Example stimuli, trial and study sequence. Stimuli for each of ten situations were created in two subsets (A): the “need-of-help” subset (top) consisted of need-of-help / no-need-of-help picture pairs showing a boy/toddler, a girl, or a bird each in the same situation. The “social context” subset (bottom) included 4 picture categories with varying contexts. Need-of-help pictures are shown on light gray, those showing no-need-of-help on darker gray backgrounds. Note that ratings of one picture per situation were analyzed as part of both subsets, i.e. the child boy “no-need-of-help”/“child-alone” picture. Trial sequence was pseudo randomized and was the same for all 84 pictures (B, see Additional file 1). The study was divided in two halves (C).

Mentions: The complete stimulus set was comprised of two parts, each focusing on one aspect of helping. The first picture subset, which we will refer to as “need-of-help” subset, was designed to investigate the perception of need-of-help in everyday non-dramatic situations. All pictures were created in pairs; one of them showed an agent needing help in a harmless everyday situation (e.g. trying to open a door), its counterpart showed the same agent achieving the same goal. In order to investigate whether emotional responses to need-of-help depictions are human-specific and restricted to realistic situations, there were at least two different need-of-help/no-need-of-help picture pairs for each situation; one of a child and one of a bird. For all situations showing a child with an identifiable gender (i.e. no toddlers) two pairs of child-pictures varying in gender were included. In sum, there were boy and girl picture pairs for seven situations, picture pairs of toddlers for three situations, and a corresponding picture pair showing birds for all ten situations. The “need-of-help” picture subset consisted of 54 pictures (see Figure 1 for illustration and an example situation).Figure 1


Does it matter how you ask? Self-reported emotions to depictions of need-of-help and social context.

Brielmann AA, Stolarova M - BMC Psychol (2015)

Example stimuli, trial and study sequence. Stimuli for each of ten situations were created in two subsets (A): the “need-of-help” subset (top) consisted of need-of-help / no-need-of-help picture pairs showing a boy/toddler, a girl, or a bird each in the same situation. The “social context” subset (bottom) included 4 picture categories with varying contexts. Need-of-help pictures are shown on light gray, those showing no-need-of-help on darker gray backgrounds. Note that ratings of one picture per situation were analyzed as part of both subsets, i.e. the child boy “no-need-of-help”/“child-alone” picture. Trial sequence was pseudo randomized and was the same for all 84 pictures (B, see Additional file 1). The study was divided in two halves (C).
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4403975&req=5

Fig1: Example stimuli, trial and study sequence. Stimuli for each of ten situations were created in two subsets (A): the “need-of-help” subset (top) consisted of need-of-help / no-need-of-help picture pairs showing a boy/toddler, a girl, or a bird each in the same situation. The “social context” subset (bottom) included 4 picture categories with varying contexts. Need-of-help pictures are shown on light gray, those showing no-need-of-help on darker gray backgrounds. Note that ratings of one picture per situation were analyzed as part of both subsets, i.e. the child boy “no-need-of-help”/“child-alone” picture. Trial sequence was pseudo randomized and was the same for all 84 pictures (B, see Additional file 1). The study was divided in two halves (C).
Mentions: The complete stimulus set was comprised of two parts, each focusing on one aspect of helping. The first picture subset, which we will refer to as “need-of-help” subset, was designed to investigate the perception of need-of-help in everyday non-dramatic situations. All pictures were created in pairs; one of them showed an agent needing help in a harmless everyday situation (e.g. trying to open a door), its counterpart showed the same agent achieving the same goal. In order to investigate whether emotional responses to need-of-help depictions are human-specific and restricted to realistic situations, there were at least two different need-of-help/no-need-of-help picture pairs for each situation; one of a child and one of a bird. For all situations showing a child with an identifiable gender (i.e. no toddlers) two pairs of child-pictures varying in gender were included. In sum, there were boy and girl picture pairs for seven situations, picture pairs of toddlers for three situations, and a corresponding picture pair showing birds for all ten situations. The “need-of-help” picture subset consisted of 54 pictures (see Figure 1 for illustration and an example situation).Figure 1

Bottom Line: The presence of a child and adult together increased pleasantness ratings compared to pictures in which they were depicted alone.Aggregated unipolar pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings accounted well for arousal and even better for bipolar valence ratings and for content effects on them.It also builds upon recent findings on the correspondence between emotional ratings on bipolar and unipolar scales.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Psychology and Zukunftskolleg, University of Konstanz, Universitaetsstrasse 10, Konstanz, 78464 Germany.

ABSTRACT

Background: When humans observe other people's emotions they not only can relate but also experience similar affective states. This capability is seen as a precondition for helping and other prosocial behaviors. Our study aims to quantify the influence of help-related picture content on subjectively experienced affect. It also assesses the impact of different scales on the way people rate their emotional state.

Methods: The participants (N=242) of this study were shown stimuli with help-related content. In the first subset, half the drawings depicted a child or a bird needing help to reach a simple goal. The other drawings depicted situations where the goal was achieved. The second subset showed adults either actively helping a child or as passive bystanders. We created control conditions by including pictures of the adults on their own. Participants were asked to report their affective responses to the stimuli using two types of 9-point scales. For one half of the pictures, scales of arousal (calm to excited) and of bipolar valence (unhappy to happy) were employed; for the other half, unipolar scales of pleasantness and unpleasantness (strong to absent) were used.

Results: Even non-dramatic depictions of simple need-of-help situations were rated systematically lower in valence, higher in arousal, less pleasant and more unpleasant than corresponding pictures with the child or bird not needing help. The presence of a child and adult together increased pleasantness ratings compared to pictures in which they were depicted alone. Arousal was lower for pictures showing only an adult than for those including a child. Depictions of active helping were rated similarly to pictures showing a passive adult bystander, when the need-of-help was resolved. Aggregated unipolar pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings accounted well for arousal and even better for bipolar valence ratings and for content effects on them.

Conclusion: This is the first study to report upon the meaningful impact of harmless need-of-help content on self-reported emotional experience. It provides the basis for further investigating the links between subjective emotional experience and active prosocial behavior. It also builds upon recent findings on the correspondence between emotional ratings on bipolar and unipolar scales.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus