A film set for the elicitation of emotion in research: A comprehensive catalog derived from four decades of investigation

Behav Res Methods. 2017 Dec;49(6):2061-2082. doi: 10.3758/s13428-016-0842-x.


Emotions are highly influential to many psychological processes. Indeed, research employing emotional stimuli is rapidly escalating across the field of psychology. However, challenges remain regarding discrete evocation of frequently co-elicited emotions such as amusement and happiness, or anger and disgust. Further, as much contemporary work in emotion employs college students, we sought to additionally evaluate the efficacy of film clips to discretely elicit these more challenging emotions in a young adult population using an online medium. The internet is an important tool for investigating responses to emotional stimuli, but validations of emotionally evocative film clips across laboratory and web-based settings are limited in the literature. An additional obstacle is identifying stimuli amidst the numerous film clip validation studies. During our investigation, we recognized the lack of a categorical database to facilitate rapid identification of useful film clips for individual researchers' unique investigations. Consequently, here we also sought to produce the first compilation of such stimuli into an accessible and comprehensive catalog. We based our catalog upon prior work as well as our own, and identified 24 articles and 295 film clips from four decades of research. We present information on the validation of these clips in addition to our own research validating six clips using online administration settings. The results of our search in the literature and our own study are presented in tables designed to facilitate and improve a selection of highly valid film stimuli for future research.

Keywords: Emotion; Emotion elicitation; Film; Stimuli.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Behavioral Research / methods*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Pictures*
  • Young Adult