Emotion: The Key to Solving the Puzzle.

AdSAM® vs. Other Methods

AdSAM® vs. Other Methods for Measuring Emotional Response

There are a variety of methods for assessing emotional reactions. The methods can be divided into two categories: verbal and non-verbal.

Below is description of the most common methods from each category:


Researchers have criticized verbal measures, because these methods are cognitively-based, which means that subjects are thinking about the emotion and then asked to characterize the emotion themselves or asked to fit it into a finite selection. This leads to many issues:
(1) The rationalization dilutes the true emotional reaction
(2) The true emotion felt is not easily expressed by the participant or is not represented in the finite selections offered by the researcher
(3) Language biases make the results difficult to compare across segments, especially cross-culturally

Example Verbal Methods:

Semantic Differential Scales: This verbal-based method is the most common approach for measuring emotional responses. It utilizes semantic differential scales that consist of pairs of pre-calibrated emotion denoting adjectives.

Verbatim Content Analysis: This verbal-based method involves analyzing written or spoken reactions. These reactions are content analyzed to characterize the emotions expressed.

In addition to the drawbacks previously outlined for verbal methods in general, this method relies on a human to interpret the meaning of participant comments and to appropriately characterize the emotions. This could lead to researcher bias and measurement error.



Non-verbal methods are heralded because they measure the affective response instantaneously and are undiluted by rationalization.

However, often times, these measures are cumbersome and are not suited for large studies and with certain audiences.

A non-verbal method that that can be easily administered, like AdSAM®, is the best method for measuring emotions.

Example Non-Verbal Methods:

EKG/MRI: Measuring heart rate or brain activity will certainly produce reliable results, but these methods are not feasible in many research scenarios:
(1) Large studies (many respondents and multiple stimuli)
(2) Research with certain audiences (like children)

Facial Expression Analysis: A facial expression analyst observes the participants’ facial reactions and interprets what those expressions mean. This method’s drawbacks are as follows:
(1) Large studies (many respondents and multiple stimuli)
(2) Potential for researcher bias and measurement error
(3) Requires expert evaluation as well as analysis that can be time consuming
(4) Cannot be easily correlated with other measures such as rational questions or verbatim remarks

Non-verbal Pictorial Methods: This method uses picture sorts and can present respondent bias. Respondents are asked to choose among faces that may not look like them.

Non-verbal Graphic Methods: This is the method utilized by AdSAM®. Graphic methods utilize images that denote emotion or dimension of emotion. This is one of the only easy-to-administer non-verbal methods of measuring emotion.