ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (9): 1124-1132.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.01124

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When does Inhibition of Affect Labeling Occur: ERP Study

YUE Pengfei1,2; DU Wanwan1; BAI Xuejun2,3; XU Yuanli1   

  1. (1 School of Education Science, Xinyang Normal University, Xinyang 464000, China)
     (2 Academy of Psychology and Behavior, Tianjin Normal University, Tianjin 30074, China)
    (3 Center of Cooperative Innovation for Assessment and Promotion of Mental Health, Tianjin 30074, China)
  • Received:2014-08-31 Published:2015-09-25 Online:2015-09-25
  • Contact: BAI Xuejun, E-mail:



Affect labeling refers to the processing of emotional stimuli, with words describing the stimuli. Many studies using fMRI have found that affect reactions are weakened when they are being tested in an affect labeling condition. However, studies using ERP technology have found dissimilar results. Given this contradiction, this study uses ERPs technology to study the change of affect labeling at two stages of the EEG to test this issue.
The present study used positive and negative emotional faces as experimental materials, with happy emotional face images as positive stimuli and angry emotional face images as negative stimuli. Half of these faces were male, and half were female. The research used a 2 (labeling types) × 2 (emotion types) experimental design, in which there were two levels of labeling types: affect labeling and gender labeling. And emotion types had two levels: anger and happiness. In the Experiment, the affect labeling condition referred to observing the facial emotion expressed in the description given below the face, and then selecting the appropriate word (angry or happy). Gender labeling refers to observing the face pictures, and then choosing the right words for the face's gender (Li Na or Zhang Tao). If the subject believed the face images are men, they should choose the marked word “Zhang Tao”, or “Li Na” if they believe the images are women. The dependent variables were accuracy rate, reaction time, and the subjects to perform tasks during EEG.
The results show that: (1) before the end of affect labeling: in the negative emotion condition, the amplitudes have no differences between affect labeling and gender labeling in the late positive potential (LPP), however the amplitudes of affect labeling were higher under the positive emotion condition in the LPP; (2) after the affect labeling: the amplitudes of affect labeling in the LPP were lower, compared with gender labeling, regardless of positive emotion or negative emotion.

The above results reveal that the inhibition of the affect labeling on emotions occurs when subjects label emotional stimuli. In the process of emotional labeling the positive emotion was enhanced, and then was weakened.

Key words: affect labeling, gender labeling, event-related brain potentials