Kansei measurement

Kansei measurement deals with the measurement of psychological and physiological responses to address human kansei.

Kansei measurement, in common with all kind of measurements, has to be valid and reliable (Ghauri, Grønhaug & Strange, 2020). Validity is related with really measuring what we want to measure and having the closest approximation to the truth. In our context, validity means representing the ground truth of people’s emotions. Reliability refers to the consistency of a measurement (the degree to which an instrument gives the same measurement every time it is used to measure the same). A reliable kansei measurement means not only that data is error-free, but also unambiguous and repeatable.

The problem of validity and reliability is particularly tricky in kansei because of the ephemeral nature of many emotions we try to catch. However, dealing with this problem is important, as often the whole solution depends on the data we collect (data-driven approach). Topics such as how to capture the change of emotions over time are, in fact, research questions that await further investigation.

Human kansei is commonly collected using either physiological or psychological responses.

Physiological responses imply capturing physical body reactions, with methods such as electrodermal activity (EDA), electromyography (EMG) and eyetracking.

Psychological responses always require self-reporting, either using images or words. Using words is the most common option. The way to collect the emotions conveyed by a product with self-reporting usually implies giving scores on several items for each studied prototype. These scores come from choosing among pairs or groups of prototypes, from ranking prototypes, or from directly giving a rate to each prototype. When giving ratings, either semantic differential scales (Osgood, Suci & Tannenbaum, 1957) or Likert scales are used. For example, semantic scales were used to assess the kansei response to various cocktails. Van-Lottum et al (2006) ask respondents to score men’s everyday shoes from 1 to 5 on semantic differential scales such as fashionable – unfashionable, casual – formal, etc. They also used Likert scales from 1 to 5 (strongly agree to strongly disagree) for semantic words such as authentic, unique to evaluate historic custom-built footwear.  Bouchard et al (2009) use other scales to elicit responses to environments.

As kansei measurement implies working with data, it is an area prone to contributions from statistics – particularly, the use of multivariate techniques, design of experiments, and modelling, among others (Marco-Almagro, Tort-Martorell, 2012). 

As always when capturing data coming from individuals, there are ethical questions that need to be addressed. This is particularly relevant in the context of kansei measurement, where we are trying to capture information that might be even unknown to the study participant.

For further information and discussion of ideas, please post to the website.


Bouchard C., Mantelet, F., Aoussat A, Solves-Camallonga C., Gonzales, J.C., Pearce, K.F., van Lottum, C. & Coleman, S.Y. (2009). A European emotional investigation in the field of shoe design’. Special Issue on: “Engineering Emotional Design (EED) and Kansei Engineering (KE). International Journal of Product Development, 7 (1/2), pp3-27 DOI: 10.1504/IJPD.2009.022274

Ghauri, P., Grønhaug, K., & Strange, R. (2020). Research methods in business studies. Cambridge University Press.

Marco‐Almagro, L., & Tort‐Martorell, X. (2012). Statistical methods in kansei engineering: a case of statistical engineering. Quality and Reliability Engineering International, 28(5), 563-573.

Osgood, C. E., Suci, G. J., & Tannenbaum, P. H. (1957). The measurement of meaning (No. 47). University of Illinois press. Van-Lottum, CE, Pearce, KF & Coleman, SY. (2006). Features of Kansei Engineering characterizing its use in two studies: men’s everyday footwear and historic footwear. QREI, 22, 1-22.