We previously examined how eye tracking is becoming an increasingly more popular subject for scientific research, using a simple Google Scholar search. We repeated the exercise on the subject of Galvanic Skin Response (GSR), and this is the trend we found: (Click on the image to view it in full size)

 

 

In the 70-, 80-, and 90ies there seems to be a constant interest in the subject, but in the past decade there is a strong growth in the number of scientific publications involving the exact term “Galvanic Skin Response” (we excluded “Electrodermal Activity” or EDA, as people usually refer to both terms in the same publication). The apparent growth can be due to a number of factors:

  1. Equipment to measure GSR has become easily accessible and affordable – you can even construct a GSR instrument from LEGO. The immediate availability and low cost makes it easy for a scientist to apply this methodology onto their own field of research. A lot of prior research exists in relation to GSR: correct usage, advantages and pitfalls are extremely well described in the literature through the past 60 years. All in all, the barrier to apply GSR to scientific research has never been lower than it is today.
  2. Emotion measurement has gained renewed attention in scientific and commercial research – for example within marketing and product development. Many scientists and professionals contributed to this renewed interest into emotions – A good example is neuroscientist Antonio Damasio, who wrote a popular book on the subject: Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason and the Human Brain. Additionally, journalist Malcolm Gladwell had great success with his book, Blink, which touches upon the same subject, but for a broader audience. It is generally agreed that GSR can measure emotional response hence the interest in GSR has been positively affected by the increased interest in emotional measurements over the last decade.
  3. The number of relevant application areas for skin conductance sensors is higher today than thirty years ago. For example as mentioned above in marketing there is an increased interest. Previously emotion measurement would be applied to print ads, videos and product designs; today the same techniques are applied to brand research, homepages, user experience, in-store experience, fragrances and much more.