Affective Computing logo Research Project

The Sentic Mouse:

Developing a tool for Measuring Emotional Valence

Dana Kirsch


The Sentic Mouse is an experiment inspired by the work of Peter J. Lang, Ward Winton, Lois Putnam, Robert Kraus and Dr. Manfred Clynes, that provides a first step toward designing a tool to measure a subject's emotional valence response. Emotional valence may be described as a person's emotional assessment of stimuli, from positive (associated with pleasure, liking and attraction) to negative (associated with displeasure, dislike and avoidance or revultion). The goal of the experiment is to begin to apply quantifying values to emotions and ultimately to build a predictive model for emotion theory.

Peter J. Lang and others showed subjects a series of pictures and asked them to self-rate their emotional response. Ward Winton, Lois Putnam, and Robert Krauss measured heart rate and skin conductance while subjects viewed emotionally evocative stimuli. Dr. Manfred Clynes conducted a series of sentic experiments, gathering data from the vertical and horizontal components of finger pressure. Each of these experiments attempted to quantify emotions and map them into a predictive model of emotion theory. Under the auspices of the Affective Computing research group, these three models were applied to the interaction between humans and computers. Using a computer to provide the affective stimulus to the human subject, an experiment was conducted which combined all three emotion studies.

An ordinary computer mouse was augmented with a pressure sensor to collect sentic data as in Dr. Clynes experiments. Simoultaneously as the subjects viewed Lang's affective picture database, IAPS, we monitored the various other bio sensors they were connected to, including GSR and EKG, as precidented by the research of Winton, Putnam, and Krauss.

The three measured results: sentic data, heart rate, and self-assessment, were then readily compared against each other as well as against the theoretically predicted results to assess the subject's emotional valence for each slide. The results, which are in the preliminary stages of analysis, suggest that valence information can be captured by the sentic mouse.

View an MPEG demonstration

Please send email to: zuul@media.mit.edu. This page was last updated October 15, 1997.