Evaluating emotional triggers

The organisation I work for asks a question of it’s visitors, along the lines of “how strongly do you agree or disagree with the statement ‘this place had a real emotional impact on me’?” We can see that the more people agree with that statement (even if only the minority strongly agree), the more likely people are to have a very enjoyable day, and recommend a visit to friends and relations. But we don’t really measure what drives that emotional response.

I asked a similar question when evaluating Ghosts in the Garden, and I experienced a familiar sense of frustration about how little insight it allowed me. So I plan to work out a set of questions that might be more informative about what drives an emotional connection with a place.

I’m going to start by looking in more detail at this thesis by Mohd Kamal Othman, which I first heard about at the CDH conference in July. Othman was evaluating mobile experiences, and in doing so created a Museum Experience Scale and an Church Experience Scale (one of the projects he was evaluating was a mobile guide for Churches).

I’m particularly interested in the questions the evaluation asked to measure what he termed “emotional connection”:

  • The exhibition enabled me to reminisce about my past
  • My sense of being in the exhibition was stronger than my sense of being in the real world
  • I was overwhelmed with the aesthetic/beauty aspect of the exhibits
  • I wanted to own exhibits like those that I saw in the exhibition
  • I felt connected with the exhibits
  • I like text-based information as supporting material at museum exhibitions
  • I felt spiritually involved with the church and its features
  • I felt connected with the church and its features
  • I felt emotionally involved with the church and its features
  • I felt moved in the church
  • The church had a spiritual atmosphere
  • My sense of being in the church was stronger than my sense of being in the rest of the world

Now it strikes me that the church specific questions are a little less specific than the ones created for exhibitions, but I’ve not yet read about the reasoning behind them. Some of the questions though (touching on presence, spectacle and acquisition, for example) resonate with what I’ve been discovering about emotional triggers in games. I feel there’s something here to build on.

(Now, I better get back to writing that presentation for Decoding the Digital)