Age-related differences in valence and arousal ratings of pictures from the International Affective Picture System (IAPS): do ratings become more extreme with age?

Behav Res Methods. 2008 May;40(2):512-21. doi: 10.3758/brm.40.2.512.


The International Affective Picture System (IAPS) has been widely used in aging-oriented research on emotion. However, no ratings for older adults are available. The aim of the present study was to close this gap by providing ratings of valence and arousal for 504 IAPS pictures by 53 young and 53 older adults. Both age groups rated positive pictures as less arousing, resulting in a stronger linear association between valence and arousal, than has been found in previous studies. This association was even stronger in older than in young adults. Older adults perceived negative pictures as more negative and more arousing and positive pictures as more positive and less arousing than young adults did. This might indicate a dedifferentiation of emotional processing in old age. On the basis of a picture recognition task, we also report memorability scores for individual pictures and how they relate to valence and arousal ratings. Data for all the pictures are archived at

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Arousal*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual*
  • Photic Stimulation / methods
  • Psychometrics / standards*
  • Recognition, Psychology
  • Reference Standards
  • Reference Values