The Effects of Valence and Attentional Focus on the Remembered Size of Objects in Affective Scenes

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Evidence suggests that motivational states might influence spatial judgments when viewing either real or virtual inclines 1. Recently, this finding has been extended to photographic stimuli 2. This study sought to determine whether the emotional aspects of a photographic stimulus would influence remembered size of both focal and non-focal objects contained therein. Participants were presented with arousing positively and negatively valenced photographs selected from the International Affective Picture System. To determine the contribution of attention, within each image objects were selected which were either more or less central to the affective scene. Following a 500 ms presentation of the original intact photograph and an unfilled 1s ISI, subjects were presented with a portion of the original image. This sub-section of the image, containing either a focal or non-focal object, was presented as either slightly larger or slightly smaller than it appeared within the original scene. Participants were instructed to manipulate the size of the image so that it matched the remembered size of the object in the original. Participants sized the focal objects so that they accurately reflected their size in the original picture (.99 of original size) whereas non-focal objects were sized smaller than they appeared in the original picture (.95 of original size). There were no differences as a function of overall picture valence. Thus, attentional focus increased the relative remembered size of objects, but valence had no influence on remembered size. 1 Bhalla & Proffitt, 1999 2 Lindemann, 2006

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Journal of Vision, v. 8, issue 6, art. 336