A Valid Self-Report is Never Late, Nor is it Early: On Considering the "Right" Temporal Distance for Assessing Emotional Experience

by   Bernd Dudzik, et al.

Developing computational models for automatic affect prediction requires valid self-reports about individuals' emotional interpretations of stimuli. In this article, we highlight the important influence of the temporal distance between a stimulus event and the moment when its experience is reported on the provided information's validity. This influence stems from the time-dependent and time-demanding nature of the involved cognitive processes. As such, reports can be collected too late: forgetting is a widely acknowledged challenge for accurate descriptions of past experience. For this reason, methods striving for assessment as early as possible have become increasingly popular. However, here we argue that collection may also occur too early: descriptions about very recent stimuli might be collected before emotional processing has fully converged. Based on these notions, we champion the existence of a temporal distance for each type of stimulus that maximizes the validity of self-reports – a "right" time. Consequently, we recommend future research to (1) consciously consider the potential influence of temporal distance on affective self-reports when planning data collection, (2) document the temporal distance of affective self-reports wherever possible as part of corpora for computational modelling, and finally (3) and explore the effect of temporal distance on self-reports across different types of stimuli.


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