Manipulating affective state using extended picture presentations

Steven K. Sutton, Richard J. Davidson, Bonny Donzella, William Irwin, Darren A. Dottl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Separate, extended series of positive, negative, and neutral pictures were presented to 24 (12 men, 12 women) undergraduates. Each series was presented on a different day, with full counterbalancing of presentation orders. Affective state was measured using (a) orbicularis oculi activity in response to acoustic startle probes during picture presentation, (b) corrugator supercilii activity between and during picture presentation, and (c) changes in self-reports of positive and negative affect. Participants exhibited larger eyeblink reflex magnitudes when viewing negative than when viewing positive pictures. Corrugator activity was also greater during the negative than during the positive picture set, during both picture presentation and the period between pictures. Self-reports of negative affect increased in response to the negative picture set, and self-reports of positive affect were greatest following the positive picture set. These findings suggest that extended picture presentation is an effective method of manipulating affective state and further highlight the utility of startle probe and facial electromyographic measures in providing on-line readouts of affective state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-226
Number of pages10
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Acoustic startle
  • Affect
  • Facial EMG
  • Motivation


Dive into the research topics of 'Manipulating affective state using extended picture presentations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this