Social cognition research has relied primarily on photographic emotional stimuli. Such stimuli likely have limited ecological validity in terms of representing real world social interactions. The current study presents evidence for the validity of a new stimuli set of dynamic social SCENES (Skidmore Clips of Emotional and Neutral Expressive Scenarios). To develop these stimuli, ten undergraduate theater students were recruited to portray members of an audience. This audience was configured to display (seven) varying configurations of social feedback, ranging from unequivocally approving to unequivocally disapproving (including three different versions of balanced/neutral scenes). Validity data were obtained from 383 adult participants recruited from Amazon's Mechanical Turk. Each participant viewed three randomly assigned scenes and provided a rating of the perceived criticalness of each scene. Results indicate that the SCENES reflect the intended range of emotionality, and pairwise comparisons suggest that the SCENES capture distinct levels of critical feedback. Overall, the SCENES stimuli set represents a publicly available (www.scenesstimuli.com) resource for researchers interested in measuring social cognition in the presence of dynamic and naturalistic social stimuli.
Schofield C.A., Weeks J.W., Taylor L., Karnedy, C. (2015). Skidmore Clips of Neutral and Expressive Scenarios (SCENES): Novel dynamic stimuli for social cognition research, Psychiatry Research, 230.3, 853-859