Complex Stimuli in Clinical Experiments: Validation With Phenomenological Interviews


  • Tinkara Grm University of Ljubljana
  • Nika Kovačič University of Ljubljana
  • Nika Pušlar University of Ljubljana
  • Tela Ravnikar University of Ljubljana


In experimental cognitive psychology, a common method to elicit desired mental states is displaying static images. The stimuli were validated based on subjects’ valence and arousal evaluations, which have been found unreliable [2]. Neural responses to static images also exhibit poor psychometric properties [1]. In a recent study the researchers identified a series of novel and unexpected experiential states [2]. Therefore, most of the used stimuli libraries are outdated. The present study attempts to phenomenologically validate a library of short videos that were chosen so as to elicit the most common aspects of experience observed during the resting state. The main question of the study is therefore how people experience the aforementioned stimuli. 

Sixty Slovene participants participated in the study. The stimuli we used were a library of 2-minute-long movie clips that are hypothesized to invoke certain mental and other  states, such as emotions, bodily sensations etc. Participants were first asked to watch a video, then an in-depth phenomenological interview was conducted. Our objective was to examine the experiences of our participants and gather the information that would help the further categorization (evoked emotions) of the stimuli. Additional information about the participants was collected based on the mini RDoC battery [3]. The interviews were transcribed, and the transcriptions are to be analyzed using grounded theory. The main analytical instrument will be coding (we will assign more general descriptive tags to sections of raw text). Through coding, we will obtain experiential categories that describe the lived experience of observing a video. The assumed phenomenology associated with the videos will then be statistically compared with the empirical phenomenology that was observed during the videos using the chi-square test. 

Currently, Slovenia lacks a library of video clips validated on Slovene participants, presenting a significant gap in research that we are attempting to tackle. Specifically, the library will be a crucial asset for upcoming projects focusing on understanding the experiences of individuals diagnosed with depression. 


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[2] K.S. Miloševič “Fenomenološki vpogled v kognicijo v mirovanju: primerjava normativnih in depresivnih posameznikov.” M.S. thesis, Dept. Psy., Univ. Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia. Accessed: Apr. 26, 2024. [Online]. Available:

[3] B. R. Förstner et al., “Mapping Research Domain Criteria using a transdiagnostic mini-RDoC assessment in mental disorders: a confirmatory factor analysis,” European Archives of Psychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience, vol. 273, no. 3, pp. 527–539, Jul. 2022, doi: