Facial Expressions and Self-Reported Emotions When Viewing Nature Images

Marek Franek

Jan Petružálek

Denis Šefara

Many studies have demonstrated that exposure to simulated natural scenes has positive effects on emotions and reduces stress. In the present study, we investigated emotional facial expressions while viewing images of various types of natural environments. Both automated facial expression analysis by iMotions’ AFFDEX 8.1 software (iMotions, Copenhagen, Denmark) and self-reported emotions were analyzed. Attractive and unattractive natural images were used, representing either open or closed natural environments. The goal was to further understand the actual features and characteristics of natural scenes that could positively affect emotional states and to evaluate face reading technology to measure such effects. It was predicted that attractive natural scenes would evoke significantly higher levels of positive emotions than unattractive scenes. The results showed generally small values of emotional facial expressions while observing the images. The facial expression of joy was significantly higher than that of other registered emotions. Contrary to predictions, there was no difference between facial emotions while viewing attractive and unattractive scenes. However, the self-reported emotions evoked by the images showed significantly larger differences between specific categories of images in accordance with the predictions. The differences between the registered emotional facial expressions and self-reported emotions suggested that the participants more likely described images in terms of common stereotypes linked with the beauty of natural environments. This result might be an important finding for further methodological considerations.

This publication uses Facial Expression Analysis which is fully integrated into iMotions Lab

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