Looking at pictures: affective, facial, visceral, and behavioral reactions

Psychophysiology. 1993 May;30(3):261-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-8986.1993.tb03352.x.


Colored photographic pictures that varied widely across the affective dimensions of valence (pleasant-unpleasant) and arousal (excited-calm) were each viewed for a 6-s period while facial electromyographic (zygomatic and corrugator muscle activity) and visceral (heart rate and skin conductance) reactions were measured. Judgments relating to pleasure, arousal, interest, and emotional state were measured, as was choice viewing time. Significant covariation was obtained between (a) facial expression and affective valence judgments and (b) skin conductance magnitude and arousal ratings. Interest ratings and viewing time were also associated with arousal. Although differences due to the subject's gender and cognitive style were obtained, affective responses were largely independent of the personality factors investigated. Response specificity, particularly facial expressiveness, supported the view that specific affects have unique patterns of reactivity. The consistency of the dimensional relationships between evaluative judgments (i.e., pleasure and arousal) and physiological response, however, emphasizes that emotion is fundamentally organized by these motivational parameters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Arousal / physiology
  • Behavior / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Facial Expression*
  • Facial Muscles / physiology
  • Female
  • Galvanic Skin Response / physiology
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Personality / physiology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Time Factors