Inside Rensselaer
* New Tools Created To Measure Emotion on  Display in Germany
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New Tools Created To Measure Emotion on  Display in Germany
A set of eight oddly shaped objects created as part of a research project led by Katherine Isbister, associate professor of language, literature, and communication, will be on display at the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, located in Dresden, Germany, beginning March 6.

The sculptures, called “emotional evaluation instruments,” were developed as tools to measure an individual’s affective responses to interactive systems. They will be shown as part of an eight-month exhibit called “Glück,” which means “Happiness” in English.

An expert in social, psychological, and affective approaches to human computer interfaces (HCI), Isbister examines what makes interactions with computers useful and engaging to different audiences.

HCI researchers tend to evaluate a system’s affective effects based a user’s verbal report following the interaction. Typically Likert scale surveys are administered, and individuals are asked to circle a number from 1 to 7 that best fits their response to a specific question, such as “How enjoyable was this interaction?”

To better account for a user’s emotional experiences during interaction with an interface, Isbister developed a set of tools — sculptures designed to evoke various emotions — that allow individuals to self-report on their affective reactions by choosing the object that best represents how they are feeling.

The objects — created by artist and sculptor Rainey Straus — are uniquely tailored to evaluation of emotionally active systems and represent feelings of confusion, frustration, happiness at success, positive and negative surprise, satisfaction, contentment, frantic stress, flow, and neutral.

Isbister and her research partners on this project, Kristina Hook and Jarmo Laaskolahti of Stockholm University, are planning to conduct further user evaluations and small-scale tests with the set of objects.

They will be on display in Germany until November.
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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 2, Number 4, February 28, 2008
©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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