Presenting affective pictures as a work of art could change perceivers’ judgment and strength in emotional reactions. Aesthetic theory states that perceivers of art emotionally distance themselves, allowing them to appreciate works of art depicting gruesome events. To examine whether implicit emotion regulation is induced by an art context, we assessed whether presenting pleasant and unpleasant IAPS pictures as either “works of art comprising paintings, digital renderings, and photographs of staged scenes” or “photographs depicting real events” modulated perceivers’ Late Positive Potentials (LPP) and likability ratings. In line with previous research and aesthetic theory, participants evaluated the IAPS pictures as more likable when they were presented as works of art than when they were presented as photographs. Moreover, participants’ late LPP amplitudes (600 – 900 ms post picture onset) in response to the pictures were attenuated in the art context condition. These results provide evidence for an implicit emotion regulation induced by the art context.

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Brain and Cognition
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

van Dongen, N., van Strien, J., & Dijkstra, K. (2016). Implicit emotion regulation in the context of viewing artworks. Brain and Cognition, 107, 48–54. doi:10.1016/j.bandc.2016.06.003