Psychological Research

, Volume 71, Issue 5, pp 539–552 | Cite as

What is a nice smile like that doing in a place like this? Automatic affective responses to environments influence the recognition of facial expressions

  • Jari K. Hietanen
  • Terhi Klemettilä
  • Jani E. Kettunen
  • Kalevi M. Korpela
Original Article


An affective priming paradigm with pictures of environmental scenes and facial expressions as primes and targets, respectively, was employed in order to investigate the role of natural (e.g., vegetation) and built elements (e.g., buildings) in eliciting rapid affective responses. In Experiment 1, images of environmental scenes were digitally manipulated to make continua of priming pictures with a gradual increase of natural elements (and a decrease of built elements). The primes were followed by presentations of facial expressions of happiness and disgust as to-be-recognized target stimuli. The recognition times of happy faces decreased and the recognition times of disgusted faces increased as the quantity of natural/built material present in the primes increased/decreased. The physical changes also influenced the evaluated restorativeness and affective valence of the primes. In Experiment 2, the primes used in Experiment 1 were manipulated in such a way that they were void of any recognizable natural or built elements but contained either similar colours or similar shapes as primes in Experiment 1. This time the results showed no effect of priming. These results were interpreted to give support for a view that the priming effect by environmental pictures is due to the primes representing environmental scenes and not due to the presence of certain low-level colour or shape information in the primes. In all, the present results provide evidence that perception of environmental scenes elicits automatic affective responses and influences recognition of facial expressions.


Facial Expression Priming Effect Positive Affect Affective Response Priming Experiment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jari K. Hietanen
    • 1
  • Terhi Klemettilä
    • 1
  • Jani E. Kettunen
    • 1
  • Kalevi M. Korpela
    • 1
  1. 1.Human Information Processing Laboratory, Department of Psychology33014, University of TampereTampereFinland

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