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The Besançon Affective Picture Set-Adolescents (The BAPS-Ado). New visual stimuli for affective research

Visual stimuli evoke a broad range of emotional reactions, varying in valence and arousal, and in consequence may involve pleasant or unpleasant affect. The selection of relevant and controlled visual stimuli to induce specific emotions is one of the most important tasks when studying the processes of emotion regulation. In affective research, attachment theory, which is especially related to two specific emotions, distress and comfort, leads to understanding of the mechanisms of emotional regulation and social interaction. The lack of standardized attachment-related visual stimuli and the constantly growing interest in behavioral and neuroimaging studies on emotion regulation have lead us to create the The Besançon Affective Picture Set-Adolescents (The BAPS-Ado). This novel database includes 93 pictures, divided into three emotional categories: distress, comfort, and complicity, and one neutral category. Pictures of distress, which activate the attachment strategy, show faces of distressed people. Pictures of comfort, which deactivate attachment, include scenes of parents comforting an infant/adolescent after an episode of distress. Pictures of complicity linked indirectly to attachment, show parent/infant, adolescents and adults interactions. Neutral pictures, showing persons without emotional context (e.g., persons walking along a street) ensure the social character of these pictures.


This set was standardized on the basis of dimensional and discrete approaches to emotions. A group of 140 healthy adolescents rated the pictures, using Self-Assessment Manikin and Likert-type scales.
The dimensional approach was linked to three dimensions: valence, emotional arousal and dominance. Valence ranges from happy to unhappy, arousal from aroused to calm, and dominance from dominated to dominating.
The discrete approach assessed discrete emotions: distress, hate, horror, comfort, complicity and joy.


The distribution of picture ratings from the BAPS-Ado shows a curvilinear relationship between valence and arousal found in IAPS. The ANOVAs for arousal and Kruskal-Wallis tests for valence and dominance showed strong effects for category. For example, the pictures of complicity or comfort were significantly more pleasant than pictures of distress and neutral pictures. The pictures of complicity and distress were significantly more arousing than pictures of comfort and neutral. However, valence and dominance were not significantly different between comfort and complicity, while arousal was not significantly different between distress and complicity.


We provide a set of validated emotion-inducing pictures that allows researchers to select specific stimuli to investigate attachment-related emotion processing. The database with the dimensional and discrete emotion ratings is available to the scientific community for non-commercial use only, on request (.fr).
Monika Szymanska, Julie Monnin, Nicolas Noiret, Grégory Tio, Eric Laurent, Sylvie Nezelof, Lauriane Vulliez-Coady. BAPS-Ado - development and validation in adolescents. Soumis à Psychiatry Research.