How to measure Feelings and Emotions - Market Research & Behaviour analytics

How to measure Feelings and Emotions

ByHimanshu Vashishtha

How to measure Feelings and Emotions

Most of us confuse emotions and feelings to mean the same thing, but they aren’t. They could be termed as related and dependent, yet distinct in their true meanings. But both are our reactions to how someone or something makes us feel in response to some stimuli.

  • Emotions are automatic bodily reactions to instances that occur internally or externally. They originate from the part of the brain that deals with decision-making, reasoning and conscious thoughts.
  • Feelings are the reactions to emotions. They depend on the mental associations by the brain based on past experiences, memories, thoughts, beliefs etc. Brain perceives a stimulus and assigns a meaning.

Emotions act as a catalyst and select the most suitable reaction to a stimulus/incident; thus they influence decision-making and rational/irrational behaviour. The benefits of measuring emotions and feelings include valuable feedback, stronger customer relations and better long-term relationships with customers, higher sales and profits etc.

How are emotions measured?

The physiological nature of emotions make it possible to measure them though brain imaging technology and biosensors –

  • Eye tracker measures pupil dilation
  • GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) measures skin conductance, ie. Electrical variations of skin
  • Electrocardiography (ECG) measures heart rate and electrical activity
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG) measures electrical activity of brain
  • Functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) measures activity of the brain by tracking blood flow changes

The most common methods for representing emotions are the Discrete model of emotion and the Continuous model of emotion. As per the Discrete model, there are 8 core emotions that are same for all people irrespective of cultural and ethnic differences – surprise, joy, disgust, interest, rage, anguish, shame and fear.

How are feelings measured?

Feelings are of a conscious nature. They can be measured with self-reporting techniques like –

  • Surveys
  • Interviews
  • Questionnaires etc.

In the world of brands (product or service), feelings play a prominent role in the buying patterns of consumers. When a person decides to buy a product that is not a need, it could be because he/she feels good about it.

Why do emotions and feelings matter?

In today’s world of relentless competition, any product or service oriented business will be successful only when the customer is satisfied. And in order to ensure maximum customer satisfaction, tapping into customer emotion becomes key. Be it at a conscious or subconscious level, the experience of a customer is largely emotional.

Researchers typically define the criteria to measure experiences and emotions that impact customer relationships. Next step would be defining emotion metrics – both positive and negative sentiments in addition to discrete sentiments. One could choose to focus on a specific emotion, and customers relating to that, or even a negative segment.

Ideally, once the emotion data is collected and analysed, and improvements and suggestions are recommended, the progress of improvement or otherwise of the sentiment can be monitored for better results and further tweaking to strategy if necessary.

Measuring emotions and feelings of customers should translate into actions and strategies that instill a sense of credibility and trustworthiness with customers.

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Himanshu Vashishtha administrator

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