Feel the image: The role of emotions in the image-seeking process

Lev Poretski, Joel Lanir, Ofer Arazy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Images are characterized by a complex system of attributes. One of the most elusive properties of an image is its emotiveness–the ability to trigger an emotional reaction in the viewer. Prior research has demonstrated that users react to image emotiveness, yet to date there is little theoretical understanding and scarce empirical evidence as to the role played by emotiveness in the image retrieval process. Our study aims to fill this gap and investigates how users perceive the emotional content of the image-seeking task; explicate this emotional content in search keywords; and react to image emotiveness in selecting relevant images. Using a multimethod approach that combines quantitative and qualitative analyses, we performed three experiments where participants searched for images, both within the predefined set of images and in an open Web environment. Our findings suggest that although seekers rarely explicate image emotiveness in search keywords, their decision to select relevant images is largely dependent on their perception of the emotional content of the task and images. We discuss implications for research on emotions in image retrieval, as well as practical implications for designers of search systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)240-277
Number of pages38
JournalHuman-Computer Interaction
Issue number3
StatePublished - 4 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Copyright © 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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