This article is part of the Research Topic Linking Perception and Cognition

Perspective ARTICLE

Front. Psychol., 16 April 2012 | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00107

Micro-valences: perceiving affective valence in everyday objects

  • 1 Department of Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences, Brown University, Providence, RI, USA
  • 2 Department of Psychiatry, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  • 3 Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  • 4 Department of Psychology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA, USA
  • 5 Department of Psychology, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Perceiving the affective valence of objects influences how we think about and react to the world around us. Conversely, the speed and quality with which we visually recognize objects in a visual scene can vary dramatically depending on that scene’s affective content. Although typical visual scenes contain mostly “everyday” objects, the affect perception in visual objects has been studied using somewhat atypical stimuli with strong affective valences (e.g., guns or roses). Here we explore whether affective valence must be strong or overt to exert an effect on our visual perception. We conclude that everyday objects carry subtle affective valences – “micro-valences” – which are intrinsic to their perceptual representation.

Keywords: affective valence, visual object perception, object recognition, micro-valence, object preference

Citation: Lebrecht S, Bar M, Barrett LF and Tarr MJ (2012) Micro-valences: perceiving affective valence in everyday objects. Front. Psychology 3:107. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00107

Received: 07 November 2011; Accepted: 24 March 2012;
Published online: 17 April 2012.

Edited by:

Arnon Cahen, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel
Michela C. Tacca, Heinrich-Heine University Düsseldorf, Germany

Reviewed by:

Karla K. Evans, Harvard Medical School, USA
Ian Krajbich, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Copyright: © 2012 Lebrecht, Bar, Barrett and Tarr. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Michael J. Tarr, Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, Carnegie Mellon University, 115 Mellon Institute, 4400 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA. e-mail: michaeltarr@cmu.edu

Back to top