Last week we let you in on three reasons why GSR should make it onto your list of biometric sensors if you aim to peek beneath the surface to light upon emotional behavior that lies beyond our conscious control. In case you missed to read it, no worries – click here to catch up.

The sheer fact that you can assess the impact of any type of emotionally engaging content on human behavior renders GSR a tremendously valuable biometric signal. Coupled with a refreshing ease of measurement, GSR responses are being leveraged by a rapidly growing number of disciplines within academic and commercial research to advance insights into emotional behavior.

Need some creative inspiration for your biometric research? Perfect, you’ve found it. Stay right here and get our top 5 application areas of GSR technology (as always, all incitations are up for grabs – snitching is encouraged).

1. Psychological research

In current practice, psychologists utilize GSR recordings to identify emotional responses to different kinds of stimuli and how these responses are affected by

  • stimulus characteristics (color, shape, duration of stimulus presentation)
  • personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, neuroticism, etc.)
  • social expectations (“girls like pink clothes”, for example)
  • cultural background and individual learning histories

Think of this: A rather tearful experience with an injection (ouch!) during a doctor’s appointment in your childhood most probably will leave a lasting, not too pleasant memory and trigger an increase in emotional arousal when you come face to face with needles (and doctors) in later life (perhaps even the thought of your yearly influenza vaccination freaks you out).

2. Clinical research & psychotherapy

Patients suffering from psychological disorders such as eating disorders, phobias or post-traumatic stress syndrome (just to name a few) show heightened level of anxiety and emotional arousal when confronted with trauma reminders.

One example: A patient suffering from arachnophobia will most certainly respond with severe anxiety symptoms when exposed to hairy spiders (or mental representations of it) – cold sweat, hot flushes, hyperventilation, trembling, etc. GSR can be used quite effectively in the assessment of the severity of such psychological disorders. During a cognitive-behavioral therapy, GSR measures can help identify the level of psychological arousal during exposition or relaxation trainings as well as the success of the therapeutic intervention.

3. Media & advertising testing

Ever wondered why your expertly executed TV ad just doesn’t cut it as hoped despite all that fervent energy and unbounded creativity you put into creating it?

Now would be the perfect time to make friends with GSR to save the day and get back on the right track. Media research utilizes GSR measurements to assess how well TV ads, trailers or other emotional content such as full-length shows perform. To what extend are they able to catch on with individual viewers or focus groups? The recording of emotional arousal can help to easily identify key frames in the stimulus material or individual scenes that don’t appeal to the target audience as expected and seek out those who just got it right.  

4. Consumer neuroscience & marketing

If you are an old hand in consumer neuroscience, you certainly know this inside out: Targeting consumer preferences is the key to successful marketing. Now how can GSR help you find out what your customers really rave about?

GSR can be utilized to track the differences in emotional responses to products with high consumer interest, however only subtle differences in terms of appearance and quality. Imagine you’re standing in the drugstore scanning the toothpaste shelf – while all of them are doing a very similar job (cleaning your teeth, that is) and look more or less the same, you eventually decide against the maximum whitening toothpaste with mini breath stripes and go for the bright smile toothpaste with ice cooling crystals instead. How come? Don’t they promise the same (shiny teeth and excitingly fresh breath, that is)?

With the help of GSR recordings exactly these (subconscious) decision processes can be examined in more detail in order to enhance products, assess market segments or identify target audiences and personas.

5. Usability testing & UX design

Navigating through websites should be a fun, effortless experience with frustration levels being kept as low as possible (or better yet, they’re non-existent). Monitoring GSR can provide unfiltered insights into user’ stress levels during the interaction with new website content, user interfaces, and online forms. How emotionally satisfying is the navigation? Whenever visitors encounter road blocks or get lost in complex sub-menus (which occurs frighteningly often), you will certainly see increased stress levels reflected in stereotypic GSR activation patterns. Those can be leveraged effectively to improve site navigation and content display.