Bids for Emotional Communication through Emotion Control

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Emotion elicitation by the use of films is one of the concepts which stood out after reading Coan and Allen (2007). The authors found out that rage, criticism, laughter, complaining, surprise, belligerence, sorrow, scorn, fear, disgust, stonewalling, satire, validation, apprehension, superiority, threats, defensiveness, curiosity, and neutrality are some of the emotions that can be elicited in movies. But the answer to the question of how feelings can be assessed is the more important discovery. In measuring emotions, the writers found out that the basis for measuring emotions is the resting state. According to Coan and Allen (2007), two issues that are critical to the measurement of emotions are the extraction of emotion, and proximity of activation as well as measurement methods. The item stood out because I did not know that emotions can be measured.

Films and pictures are widely utilized and accepted stimuli for eliciting emotions. In their article, Uhrig et al. (2016) examined emotion elicitation in films and pictures. The objective of the researchers was to compare films and pictures on the basis of their capacity to elicit emotions. The authors pointed out that previous theoretical arguments suggest that there is a general assumption which states that films induce emotional effects more than the pictures. In their study, the authors hypothesized that static pictures are at least as effective as short films in inducing positive as well as negative emotional states. In their study, the authors sought to test the effectiveness of the film set in the aspect of its ability to induce emotion by comparing it with inducement generated by still pictures data set established by IAPS.

Before stating their hypothesis, the authors have argued that pictures share most of the advantages that films offer such as their ability to be standardized. Films are thought to be more advantageous because they are dynamic and mimic real life. The technical elements in films can also be used to emphasize actions as well as their emotional meaning. While there have been several studies regarding films, the authors contend that no comparisons have been made with static pictures as an inducement for emotions. To them, the only studies that have compared films and pictures only aimed to provoke specific emotional reactions in the context of sexual stimulation. The authors argued that although there have been many theoretical arguments that claim films are more effective than pictures, there is hardly any empirical evidence to support it.

The authors divided the results of the study into valence ratings and arousal ratings. In valence ratings, changes in negative and positive stimuli were compared to the baseline. Positive stimuli were associated with positive Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM) scale valence ratings irrespective of whether the source of stimuli was film or picture. On the aspect of gender, it was found that women rate their presentations with positive content more positively than men. On the impacts of negative stimuli on gender, it was found out that the effect is highly significant. For example, women reported a stronger negative emotion states as compared to men. On arousal ratings, the film condition shows that it had higher arousal ratings than pictures. The results also show that women reported slightly higher ratings than men. The impact of gender was also highly significant on the issue of negative arousal with the results showing that women are more highly aroused by negative stimuli as compared to men. Overall it shows that women report higher ratings as compared with men whether the stimuli was positive or negative.

The short film clips generated a corresponding emotional response. While negative film clips generated negative emotional ratings, positive film clips generated positive emotional ratings. The results of the study also revealed that the film clips were as effective as pictures in the generation of positive emotion regarding arousal states. However, pictures were more effective than film clips in evoking negative emotions. The findings that women exhibited greater emotional expression with regard to both valence and arousal is in line with previous findings which show that women are more emotionally expressive. Although it was not considered significant, pictures carrying positive content induce a lower arousal as compared to a film clip. The fact that film clips were not as effective in inducing negative emotions as compared to pictures might be because the films were too short.

One of the limitations of the author’s internal validity is that they pointed out that a total of 144 participants were involved. However, there were more women than men. There is the use of more than independent variables acting at the same time, and therefore the internal validity is weak. The issue of emotion is subjective in various contexts. It might even vary with cultures. For example, what can be very amusing in one context may elicit anger in another context. Given that the participants were drawn from the same institution and age set, the results of the results cannot be generalized for the entered population.

The findings reinforce my understanding about emotion regulation especially regarding men and women and also the effectiveness of film clips and pictures in eliciting emotions.


Coan, J.A. and Allen, J.J.B. (Eds.). (2007). Handbook of Emotion Elicitation and Assessment. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Uhrig, M. K., Trautmann, N., Baumgärtner, U., Treede, R. D., Henrich, F., Hiller, W., & Marschall, S. (2016). Emotion elicitation: a comparison of pictures and films. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 180.

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