Danger, Sex, and Everything Else: A Comparison of Camera Angle and Camera Distance Effects across Pictures of Varied Emotional Content

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Communication Studies




This study tests the effects of camera distance and camera angle on emotional response across four categories of pictures covering a large emotional range (positive and negative miscellanea, erotica, and threat), using the International Affective Picture System (IAPS) -a large database of emotionally evocative photographs. We content analyzed 722 images for the content category and camera framing (distance and angle), employing these as independent factors in analyses, and used the IAPS' pre-existing normative average ratings of emotional valence, arousal, and dominance as dependent variables. As hypothesized, affective responses were generally increased by closer framing and high and low angles (compared to straight angles), but the content of the picture played an important role in determining effect strength and direction. In particular, closeness increased arousal for all picture groups but had the opposite effect on positive miscellaneous pictures, straight angles decreased the emotional response for the two miscellanea groups, and low angles increased the emotional response for threatening pictures. This study is the first to show that previously found camera framing effects apply to pictures of high emotional intensity (e.g., erotica and threat). We suggest that future work should consider formal manipulations alongside message content.

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Journal of Media Psychology

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