Military Affective Picture System (MAPS): A new emotion-based stimuli set for assessing emotional processing in military populations

Academic Article


  • Abstract Background and objectives Emotionally relevant pictorial stimuli utilized in studies to characterize both normal and pathological emotional responses do not include military scenarios. Failures to replicate consistent findings for military populations have led to speculation that these image sets do not capture personally relevant experiences. Methods The Military Affective Picture System (MAPS) was developed consisting of 240 images depicting scenes common among military populations. A Self-Assessment Manikin was administered to a 1) U.S. Army soldiers and a 2) non-military population. Results Findings revealed gender differences in valence and dominance dimensions, but not arousal, for both samples. Valence scores were higher for the military. Arousal ratings decrease as a product of combat exposure. Civilian females demonstrated stronger correlations of valence and arousal when viewing positive or negative images. Limitations Given the limited power achieved in the current studies' gender comparisons; it would be difficult to draw major conclusions regarding the interaction of combat exposure or military status with gender for each of the categories. Without having included the IAPS ratings for comparison it is difficult to conclude whether effects only pertain to viewing MAPS images, or if there was unintentional selection bias. Additional ratings would provide better assessments for these effects in both males and females. Conclusions The MAPS has potential as a screening instrument and clinical evaluation tool for assessing treatment outcomes for individuals with combat-related psychopathology. The MAPS is freely available for research to non-profit groups upon request at
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Goodman AM; Katz JS; Dretsch MN
  • Start Page

  • 152
  • End Page

  • 161
  • Volume

  • 50