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‘Pictures With Feeling’ researchers want your emotion-eliciting images for study

Just about all of us have at least a few photos among our collection that elicit a cry of “oooh!” or possibly an “ahhh” and in some cases even a repulsed “ewwww”.

It’s precisely these kinds of images that researchers at the University of Leuven in Belgium are interested in using as part of a study looking at human emotions and mood.

The Research Group of Quantitative Psychology and Individual Differences is in the process of building a database comprising such images to help further their research.

“In order to create such a database, we need a large number of pictures that can be used to elicit or communicate feelings ranging from feeling very bad, over neutral, to very good, and ranging from feeling very passive to feeling very active,” the group explains on its dedicated Pictures With Feeling website.

It welcomes contributions of all types, including “pictures of people (emotional expressions, actions,…), animals, scenes (nature, city skylines,…) and objects,” as the group aims to collect enough images to cover what it calls the “valence-arousal space.”

Essentially this means it’s looking for photos to place inside four categories among two dimensions: 1- valence (ranging from negative to positive) and 2- arousal (ranging from passive to active).

The researchers explain:

“This gives rise to four quadrants, and a neutral point at the crossing of both dimensions. We would like to ask you to situate your picture(s) in this emotional space by rating the level of valence and arousal that you think the picture will elicit in people looking at it.”

So, for example, a photo depicting something like a large snake is in many cases likely to cause the viewer to feel fear, therefore placing it inside the left upper quadrant (negative valence – high arousal).

On the other hand, a photo of a sleeping puppy has a good chance of making the viewer feel relaxed and happy, placing it inside the right lower quadrant (positive valence – low arousal).

Perhaps you’ve just unwrapped a new camera for Christmas and are looking for some shooting inspiration, or maybe you have a bunch of old photos sitting on your hard drive doing nothing, a few of which could be useful for Pictures With Feeling – either way, if you fancy contributing to the University of Leuven’s project helping its researchers to learn more about what makes us tick, head over to here for some further information on its picture requirements.

Oh, and with the Instagram furor still fresh in the minds of many, you might want to know that the group promises the images will be used for research purposes only, and that a list of photographers’ names will accompany the final picture set.

“Whether they are holiday pictures or professionally made photographs, all pictures are welcome,” the research groups says.

[popphoto via petapixel] [Snake image: paytal; puppy image: Johan Swanepoel / Shutterstock]    

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