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Arousal and attention: Picture size and emotional reactions

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Building on the assumption that the motivational relevance of an emotional scene depends on contextual factors such as proximity or stimulus size, the present study examined the effects of picture size on emotional perception using autonomic, facial, and subjective reactions. Affective changes were measured while participants viewed pictures presented in small, medium, and large sizes and varying in affective picture content. Whereas affective modulation of heart rate and Corrugator Supercilii muscle activity were not modulated by picture size, emotional modulation of skin conductance was absent for the smallest stimuli and increased linearly for the medium and largest stimulus sizes. Stimulus size modulated sympathetic changes possibly related to activation of the strategic motivational systems and action preparation. In contrast, responses related to orienting, categorization, and communicative functions did not covary with picture size.

Keywords: Arousal; Attention; Emotion; Heart Rate; Picture size; Skin Conductance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy

Publication date: September 1, 2007


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