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Visual Representation and the Prediction of Emotion
Unformatted Document Text:  2 (Nixon, 1994). Moreover, it was illegal for anyone to take or publish a photograph of Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment (Goldberg, 1991). Pro-Apartheid white South Africans anticipated that television might spur a public outcry against racism similar to the effect it had on American civil rights movement. They also feared the infiltration of liberal humanist values found in the broadcasts of other African and western nations. Many accept that news images altered public opinion about the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the war in Somalia, the Gulf War, the environmental movement, and the anti-child labor movement. In these cases, anecdotal evidence at least seems to point in that direction. Yet, we lack a clear definition of how and why images might function this way and what characteristics of an image give it the power to persuade. This is of particular importance because images are not unequivocal representations of truth. They can be altered or staged to achieve their maximum persuasive potential. Why is it that some images remain in the national imagination and others quickly disappear from memory? Emotional impact seems to be one answer. An image that can freeze the attention of a viewer, cause the viewer to cry with joy or sadness or raise her level of anxiety should be memorable and, consequently, more persuasive. However, this does not tell us why some images are more profoundly evocative than are others. Structural factors should contribute to the intensity of an image (e.g. lighting, color, camera angle, etc.). Yet the content of the image, its subjects and objects, must help determine an audience’s level of emotional response.

Authors: Sherr, Susan.
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(Nixon, 1994). Moreover, it was illegal for anyone to take or publish a photograph
of Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment (Goldberg, 1991). Pro-Apartheid
white South Africans anticipated that television might spur a public outcry against
racism similar to the effect it had on American civil rights movement. They also
feared the infiltration of liberal humanist values found in the broadcasts of other
African and western nations.
Many accept that news images altered public opinion about the civil rights
movement, the Vietnam War, the war in Somalia, the Gulf War, the
environmental movement, and the anti-child labor movement. In these cases,
anecdotal evidence at least seems to point in that direction. Yet, we lack a clear
definition of how and why images might function this way and what
characteristics of an image give it the power to persuade. This is of particular
importance because images are not unequivocal representations of truth. They
can be altered or staged to achieve their maximum persuasive potential.
Why is it that some images remain in the national imagination and others
quickly disappear from memory? Emotional impact seems to be one answer. An
image that can freeze the attention of a viewer, cause the viewer to cry with joy or
sadness or raise her level of anxiety should be memorable and, consequently,
more persuasive. However, this does not tell us why some images are more
profoundly evocative than are others. Structural factors should contribute to the
intensity of an image (e.g. lighting, color, camera angle, etc.). Yet the content of
the image, its subjects and objects, must help determine an audience’s level of
emotional response.


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