Evaluation of film stimuli for the assessment of social-emotional processing: A pilot study

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Abstract

Background. Difficulties in top-down and bottom-up emotion generation have been proposed to play a key role in the progression of psychiatric disorders. The aim of the current study was to develop more ecologically valid measures of top-down interpretation biases and bottom-up evoked emotional responses.

Methods. 124 healthy female participants aged 18 – 25 took part in the study. We evaluated two sets of 18 brief film clips. The first set of film clips presented ambiguous social situations designed to examine interpretation biases. Participants provided written interpretations of each ambiguous film clip which were subjected to sentiment analysis. We compared the films in terms of the valence of participants interpretations. The second set of film clips presented neutral and emotionally provoking social scenarios designed to elicit subjective and facial emotional responses. While viewing these film clips participants mood ratings and facial affect were recorded and analysed using exploratory factor analyses.

Results. Most of the 18 ambiguous film clips were interpreted in the expected manner while still retaining some ambiguity. However, participants were more attuned to the negative cues in the ambiguous film clips and three film clips were identified as unambiguous. These films clips were deemed unsuitable for assessing interpretation bias. The exploratory factor analyses of participants’ mood ratings and evoked facial affect showed that the positive and negative emotionally provoking film clips formed their own factors as expected. However, there was substantial cross-loading of the neutral film clips when participants’ facial expression data was analysed.

Discussion. A subset of the film clips from the two tasks could be used to assess top-down interpretation biases and bottom-up evoked emotional responses. Ambiguous negatively valenced film clips should have more subtle negative cues to avoid ceiling effects and to ensure there is enough room for interpretation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPeerJ
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2022

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