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Sophie Lebrecht, Michael Tarr; Defining an object's micro-valence through implicit measures. Journal of Vision 2010;10(7):966. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/10.7.966.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Arguably all objects possess a “valence”, which implies that no object is truly neutral. A valence is the affective value attributed to visual objects that is automatically activated when the object is perceived by our visual system. Objects that have previously been thought of as neutral in fact possess a weak valence, termed “micro-valence”, that is, they are slightly preferred or anti-preferred. Micro-valence is likely evaluated without conscious awareness or directed attention. In order to access this system of processing we obtained a measure of micro-valence using an implicit task. We predicted that objects would show some level of micro-valence when tested implicitly. In the first experiment, participants were instructed that on each trial they should pick the item they would most want to include in their wedding registry. On any given trial, participants were simultaneously presented with four objects of the same basic category (for example, 4 wine glasses) and asked to select one. This task involved rapid selection, because the four objects were presented for 250 ms and participants were only given 400 ms to respond. This task accessed subjects' preference for a particular object, relative to others, without asking participants to explicitly rank the objects. In order to gain a measure of internal consistency across participants, the same objects were repeated in a second explicit valence task where participants were presented with all exemplars from a one basic level category and rank ordered them from positive to negative. The results confirm that there are subtle affective properties associated with individual objects. Understanding these affective properties may be helpful for understanding object perception and recognition in that these processes might be influenced by micro-valence.
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