The Science Behind Sensum

“The key to successfully understanding human emotion is to capture evidence from as many streams as possible.”

Dr Gary McKeown, School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast and Advisor to Sensum

Scientists, psychologists and philosophers have been trying to understand human nature and emotion for thousands of years. But as you know from your own personal experiences, it’s a complicated business. People are complex organisms and there are many things which influence our emotional reactions and personalities: our childhood, genetics, physiology, social norms and the world around us to name a few.

The key to successfully understanding human emotion is to measure as many of these influences as possible to build the fullest picture. Thanks to the advancement and increasing affordability of biometric and wearable technology, we are now able to measure significantly more of these than ever before.

And Now For The Science

We’ve based our way of working on The Appraisal Model approach.

Developed by Magda Arnold and Richard Lazarus and widely considered by many as the most accurate way to measure emotions, it takes the view that emotions are driven by individuals appraising things going on in the world around them.

You can read a more detailed explanation here but to summarise:

You see a brand

You're walking through your local supermarket browsing for biscuits, we love biscuits here at Sensum, and you spot a packet of Milk Chocolate Digestives.

Makes your brain appraise the situation

Your brain will then try and make sense of the information it's receiving about these biscuits by asking itself a series of questions, such as "Have I eaten these biscuits before?", "Did I enjoy them?", "How do I feel about the packaging on these biscuits?", "Was the pleasure I got from eating the biscuit worth the price I paid for them?", "How guilty will I feel after I eat these biscuits?"...FYI no-one should feel guilty about eating biscuits. We wholeheartedly support the eating of biscuits as part of a healthy balanced lifestyle.

Then there's an emotional response

Depending on the answers your brain got to these questions, it will then come to a conclusion. In our case "I love Milk Chocolate Biscuits and I can't live without them!"

Then you react physically

Your body then non-consciously (without thinking) creates physical reactions to reinforce this conclusion. For instance, when you love something like we love biscuits your pupils widen, your heart-rate speeds up ever so slightly, your skin sweats a teeny tiny bit more, the tone of your voice rises and you may even smile.

You then act

This combination of non-conscious physical reactions and a conscious conclusion then trigger you to act...which in this case means grabbing ten packets of Milk Chocolate Digestives and running to the check-out with a mad grin on our face.

Here At Sensum

Here at Sensum we use biometric and wearable technology alongside traditional methods to collect as much evidence throughout the emotional journey as possible before coming to a conclusion.

This is what sets us apart - we can tailor the evidence streams/sensors/measurements to the situation, and generate the deepest understanding of the emotional state of an individual. We then have a team of data scientists and psychologists who’ve developed algorithms to fuel all this information together and give a conclusion.