Global Image Properties Predict Ratings of Affective Pictures
Frontiers in Psychology
Affective pictures are widely used in studies of human emotions. The objects or scenes shown in affective pictures play a pivotal role in eliciting particular emotions. However, affective processing can also be mediated by low-level perceptual features, such as local brightness contrast, color or the spatial frequency profile. In the present study, we asked whether image properties that reflect global image structure and image composition affect the rating of affective pictures. We focused on
... global image properties that were previously associated with the esthetic evaluation of visual stimuli, and determined their predictive power for the ratings of five affective picture datasets (IAPS, GAPED, NAPS, DIRTI, and OASIS). First, we used an SVM-RBF classifier to predict high and low ratings for valence and arousal, respectively, and achieved a classification accuracy of 58-76% in this binary decision task. Second, a multiple linear regression analysis revealed that the individual image properties account for between 6 and 20% of the variance in the subjective ratings for valence and arousal. The predictive power of the image properties varies for the different datasets and type of ratings. Ratings tend to share similar sets of predictors if they correlate positively with each other. In conclusion, we obtained evidence from non-linear and linear analyses that affective pictures evoke emotions not only by what they show, but they also differ by how they show it. Whether the human visual system actually uses these perceptive cues for emotional processing remains to be investigated.