I'm looking for (particularly negative) emotion inducing pictures or videos. After some research, I think the best known and widely used database is the International Affective Picture System (IAPS).

However, there is a problem. You do have to request access, then you get have to send them a letter and then it takes up to 30 days to get the pictures. For me, this is way to long. Therefore, I'm looking for a good alternative to either speed this process up significantly or to find an alternative that is also widely used.


6 Answers 6


I would recommend the 730 pictures Geneva affective picture database (GAPED).

It has been validated worldwide, and the cultural bias is more limited than other image resources.

There are general positive/neutral/negative images, with valence and activations scores. Some other more specific images are also provided (snakes, spîders).

Download the datebase and ratings here Read the .txt provided.

Dan-Glauser, E. S., & Scherer, K. R. (2011). The Geneva affective picture database (GAPED): a new 730-picture database focusing on valence and normative significance. Behavior Research Methods, 43(2), 468-477. doi: 10.3758/s13428-011-0064-1

EDIT: The GAPED Pictures can be downloaded from the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences site (or directly from here)

  • $\begingroup$ Note that the IAPS has been validated worlwide as well since my answer. $\endgroup$
    – Yako
    Feb 5, 2016 at 20:40


Marchewka A, Żurawski L, Jednoróg K, Grabowska A. The Nencki Affective Picture System (NAPS). Introduction to a novel standardized wide range high quality realistic pictures database.Behavior Research Methods, 46: 596-610, 2014

Selecting appropriate stimuli to induce emotional states is essential in affective research. Only a few standardized affective stimulus databases have been created for auditory, language, and visual materials. Numerous studies have extensively employed these databases using both behavioral and neuroimaging methods. However, some limitations of the existing databases have recently been reported, including limited numbers of stimuli in specific categories or poor picture quality of the visual stimuli. In the present article, we introduce the Nencki Affective Picture System (NAPS), which consists of 1,356 realistic, high-quality photographs that are divided into five categories (people, faces, animals, objects, and landscapes). Affective ratings were collected from 204 mostly European participants. The pictures were rated according to the valence, arousal, and approach-avoidance dimensions using computerized bipolar semantic slider scales. Normative ratings for the categories are presented for each dimension. Validation of the ratings was obtained by comparing them to ratings generated using the Self-Assessment Manikin and the International Affective Picture System. In addition, the physical properties of the photographs are reported, including luminance, contrast, and entropy. The new database, with accompanying ratings and image parameters, allows researchers to select a variety of visual stimulus materials specific to their experimental questions of interest. The NAPS system is freely accessible to the scientific community for noncommercial use by request at http://naps.nencki.gov.pl .

  • $\begingroup$ Interesting! I'd be interested to know more about weaknesses in the IAPS that the NAPS is designed to address. $\endgroup$
    – Krysta
    Mar 19, 2015 at 13:09

Andero Uusberg actually compiled a bunch of Affective Image Databases and has some useful graphics visualizing how they compare. Some of these have been mentioned above but I include the full set to show completeness and associated metadata.

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International Affective Picture System (IAPS)

Lang, P.J., Bradley, M.M., & Cuthbert, B.N. (2008). International affective picture system (IAPS): Affective ratings of pictures and instruction manual. Technical Report A-8. University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Pictures: 1196 Categories: Multiple, from furniture to complete scene, wide range of semantic categories. Normative ratings: Valence, arousal, and dominance

Geneva affective picture database (GAPED)

Dan-Glauser, E. S., & Scherer, K. R. (2011). The Geneva affective picture database (GAPED): a new 730-picture database focusing on valence and normative significance. Behavior Research Methods, 43(2), 468-477. doi: 10.3758/s13428-011-0064-1 Pictures: 730 Categories: spiders, snakes, and scenes that induce emotions related to the violation of moral and legal norms (human rights violation or animal mistreatment). Positive and neutral pictures were also included. Normative ratings: Valence, Arousal, external norm and internal norm.

Nencki Affective Picture System (NAPS)

Marchewka, A., Zurawski, L., Jednoróg, K., & Grabowska, A. (2014). The Nencki Affective Picture System (NAPS): Introduction to a novel, standardized, wide-range, high-quality, realistic picture database. Behavior research methods, 46(2), 596-610. Pictures: 1356 Categories: people, faces, animals, objects, and landscapes Normative ratings: Valence and arousal

Erotic subset of Nencki Affective Picture System (NAPS-ERO)

Wierzba, M., Riegel, M., Pucz, A., Lesniewska, Z., Dragan, W. L., Gola, M., … & Marchewka, A. (2015). Erotic subset for the Nencki Affective Picture System (NAPS ERO): cross-sexual comparison study. Frontiers in psychology, 6, 1336. Pictures: 200 Categories: opposite-sex couple (50), male couple (50), female couple (50), male (25) and female (25)

Normative ratings: Valence and arousal

Set of Fear Inducing Pictures (NAPS-SFIP)

Michalowski, J. M., Drozdziel, D., Matuszewski, J., Koziejowski, W., Jednoróg, K., & Marchewka, A. (2016). The Set of Fear Inducing Pictures (SFIP): Development and validation in fearful and nonfearful individuals. Behavior Research Methods, 1-13. Pictures: 886 Categories: Spiders, bugs, blood injection, fearful social exposure, angry faces Normative ratings: Fear, arousal and valence

Open Affective Standardized Image Set (OASIS)

Kurdi, B., Lozano, S., & Banaji, M. R. (2016). Introducing the Open Affective Standardized Image Set (OASIS). Behavior research methods, 1-14. Pictures: 900 Categories: Animal, Object, Person, Scenery Normative ratings: Valence and arousal

Emotional Picture System (EmoPicS)

Wessa, M., Kanske, P., Neumeister, P., Bode, K., Heissler, J., & Schönfelder, S. (2010). EmoPics: Subjective and psychophysiological evaluations of new imaging material for clinical-bio-psychological research. Journal of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Supplement, 1/11, 77. Pictures: 378 Categories: Diverse social situations animals, and plants Normative ratings: Valence, excitement and complexity

Besançon Affective Picture Set-Adolescents (The BAPS-Ado)= The Attachment Picture Database (APD)

Szymanska, M., Monnin, J., Noiret, N., Tio, G., Galdon, L., Laurent, E., … & Vulliez-Coady, L. (2015). The Besançon Affective Picture Set-Adolescents (the BAPS-Ado): Development and validation. Psychiatry research, 228(3), 576-584. Pictures: 93 Categories: Distress, comfort, joy-complicity and neutral Normative ratings: Valence, Arousal and dominance

EmoMadrid emotional pictures database

EmoMadrid affective picture database (http://www.uam.es/CEACO/EmoMadrid.htm) Pictures: 700 Categories: Normative ratings: Valence and arousal

Military Affective Picture System (MAPS)

Dretsch, M., Thiel, K., Born, S., Goodman, A. M., & Katz, J.S. (2013). Military Affective Picture System (MAPS) [Picture Repository]. Unpublished instrument. Auburn University. Pictures: 240 Categories: Military Normative ratings: Valence, dominance, and arousal

Image Stimuli for Emotion Elicitation (ISEE)

Hanjoo Kim, Xin Lu, Michael Costa, Baris Kandemir, Reginald B. Adams, Jr., Jia Li, James Z. Wang and Michelle G. Newman, ``Development and Validation of the Image Stimuli for Emotion Elicitation (ISEE),’’ Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention, poster, New York City, May 2015. Pictures: 10 696 Categories: Pictures with emotional label and categorization from Flickr Normative ratings: valence, arousal, dominance, and likeness

Open Library of Affective Food (OLAF)

Miccoli, L., Delgado, R., Guerra, P., Versace, F., Rodríguez, S., & Fernández-Santaella, M.C. (2016). “Affective Pictures and the Open Library of Affective Foods (OLAF): Tools to Investigate Emotions toward Food in Adults.”. PLOS ONE, DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0158991 Pictures: 95 Categories: Food Normative ratings: pleasure, arousal, dominance, and food craving

The DIsgust-RelaTed-Images (DIRTI)

Haberkamp, A., Glombiewski, J. A., Schmidt, F., & Barke, A. (2017). The DIsgust-RelaTed-Images (DIRTI) database: Validation of a novel standardized set of disgust pictures. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 89, 86-94. Pictures: 240 Categories: food, animals, body products, injuries/infections, death, and hygiene Normative ratings: disgust, fear, valence, and arousal.


You may have a look at the EmoMadrid-database. Here are the instructions on how to get access.


If you have nothing against crawling the figurative arse of the internet, then 4chan's /b/ board might provide what you're seeking. I managed to scrape together a few hundred images for a quick-and-dirty EIB study using this approach (I don't have the images anymore, else I'd gladly forward them to you). Just make sure the ethics committee doesn't have a problem with it.

4chan requires no subscription, so you could even start a so-called "gore thread" yourself and save everything that pops ups. If you'd like to automate this, you can use my (still unstable) Python API wrapper. I simply ask that you report any bugs you encounter, and in return I'll try to iron them out post haste (I have tomorrow off ;) )

Using the above library, you could also search all through the text portion of all posts looking for words like "gore" and grab all images from those threads.

If you don't know Python, I'd be more than happy to assist!

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ The problem with this approach is that the images won't have been validated in any experimental setting, so you wouldn't know what people's average emotional responses are to the images (and other useful things that come out of validation experiments). $\endgroup$
    – Josh
    Jul 5, 2014 at 1:10
  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, but this may or may not be a problem depending on what you're trying to do, exactly. With EIB, for instance, just about any shocking picture will produce the effect. But Yako's approach is better, which is why I upvoted it. $\endgroup$ Jul 5, 2014 at 10:54

If your time constraint isn't too strict, I would say its well worth it. And sometimes they can get it out faster than 30 days. I actually work in the lab that made the IAPS and especially the mutilation ones are pretty gruesome. Depends on what category of negative ones you need, some databases specialize in only select ones. The IAPS has mutilation, violence, disgust, accident scenes and loss/death scenes. I know I know, total advertisement. =]


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