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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

Relation between aggregated unipolar pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings and bipolar valence (A) as well as arousal (B). Each data point corresponds to mean values for one picture. Regression lines were created using MatLab LSD.
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Fig5: Relation between aggregated unipolar pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings and bipolar valence (A) as well as arousal (B). Each data point corresponds to mean values for one picture. Regression lines were created using MatLab LSD.

Mentions: All participants used arousal and bipolar valence scales for one half of the stimuli, pleasantness and unpleasantness scales for the other half. This within-subject design allowed us to directly relate the two types of ratings to each other. First, we investigated whether bipolar valence can be inferred from the difference between pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings (see Kron et al. 2013). The correlation between this difference and bipolar valence ratings was nearly perfect (see Figure 5A), r(82)=.96, 95% CI [.94,.98], suggesting that participants employed the two types of scales similarly. If considering the “reliability” of the valence scale, 99% of the variance in valence ratings could be inferred from the difference between pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings, indicating that the information inherent in bipolar valence ratings can be derived almost completely by calculating the difference between unipolar pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings. Analyses of co-occurring pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings above zero, so called mixed feelings, indicated that pleasantness and unpleasantness rating scales can potentially provide information not accessible through valence scales (see Additional file 2 for analyses regarding mixed feelings).Figure 5


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)

Relation between aggregated unipolar pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings and bipolar valence (A) as well as arousal (B). Each data point corresponds to mean values for one picture. Regression lines were created using MatLab LSD.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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

Fig5: Relation between aggregated unipolar pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings and bipolar valence (A) as well as arousal (B). Each data point corresponds to mean values for one picture. Regression lines were created using MatLab LSD.
Mentions: All participants used arousal and bipolar valence scales for one half of the stimuli, pleasantness and unpleasantness scales for the other half. This within-subject design allowed us to directly relate the two types of ratings to each other. First, we investigated whether bipolar valence can be inferred from the difference between pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings (see Kron et al. 2013). The correlation between this difference and bipolar valence ratings was nearly perfect (see Figure 5A), r(82)=.96, 95% CI [.94,.98], suggesting that participants employed the two types of scales similarly. If considering the “reliability” of the valence scale, 99% of the variance in valence ratings could be inferred from the difference between pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings, indicating that the information inherent in bipolar valence ratings can be derived almost completely by calculating the difference between unipolar pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings. Analyses of co-occurring pleasantness and unpleasantness ratings above zero, so called mixed feelings, indicated that pleasantness and unpleasantness rating scales can potentially provide information not accessible through valence scales (see Additional file 2 for analyses regarding mixed feelings).Figure 5

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