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Visual Representation and the Prediction of Emotion
Unformatted Document Text:  20 of the photographs showed a trend toward affecting viewers’ emotional experience, but the content of the images had a statistically significant effect on viewers' emotions. For the most part, this was true for both negative and positive affect. For negative affect, only content variables withstood the multiple regression procedure. Overall, the results of the regression on negative affect that show violence, aberrance and extremity of emotion to be the most evocative are not surprising, but they are useful. These results validate assumptions of previous research, provide guidelines for quantifying negativity, and suggest directions for future research on individual variables. Although researchers no doubt frequently employed pictures with violent and deviant imagery in prior analyses of the effects of negativity on viewers, the evidence provided here will allow future researchers to provide a more concrete foundation for their choices. Moreover, the criteria outlined in this study will facilitate replication of research dealing with visual stimuli by providing guidelines for image selection. This research also finds quantitative evidence for long-standing visual communication theories. For example, the high level of significance with which the presence of unusual juxtapositions predicts negative affect provides evidence for visual persuasion theories arguing that object juxtaposition is the vehicle through which images express meaning (Messaris, 1997). The effects demonstrated for unusual juxtapositions of objects imply that the “law of proximity” posited by gestalt psychologists is in fact an important element of visual perception (Lester, 1995; Barry, 1997). The brain associates things that are

Authors: Sherr, Susan.
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20
of the photographs showed a trend toward affecting viewers’ emotional
experience, but the content of the images had a statistically significant effect on
viewers' emotions. For the most part, this was true for both negative and positive
affect.
For negative affect, only content variables withstood the multiple
regression procedure. Overall, the results of the regression on negative affect that
show violence, aberrance and extremity of emotion to be the most evocative are
not surprising, but they are useful. These results validate assumptions of previous
research, provide guidelines for quantifying negativity, and suggest directions for
future research on individual variables. Although researchers no doubt frequently
employed pictures with violent and deviant imagery in prior analyses of the
effects of negativity on viewers, the evidence provided here will allow future
researchers to provide a more concrete foundation for their choices. Moreover,
the criteria outlined in this study will facilitate replication of research dealing with
visual stimuli by providing guidelines for image selection.
This research also finds quantitative evidence for long-standing visual
communication theories. For example, the high level of significance with which
the presence of unusual juxtapositions predicts negative affect provides evidence
for visual persuasion theories arguing that object juxtaposition is the vehicle
through which images express meaning (Messaris, 1997). The effects
demonstrated for unusual juxtapositions of objects imply that the “law of
proximity” posited by gestalt psychologists is in fact an important element of
visual perception (Lester, 1995; Barry, 1997). The brain associates things that are


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