Emotion Scales

With the competitiveness in the market today, industries must seek in-depth understanding of the factors influencing consumers at the emotional level. Identifying the emotional elements that consumers experience and expect in a product provides a complete perspective on consumer affective behaviors (behaviors influenced by emotions).

The early emotion scales were developed for the usage in clinical psychiatry. Profile of Mood States (POMS)1 is an assessment of transient mood states, measuring six factors: tension – anxiety, depression – dejection, anger – hostility, vigor – activity, fatigue – inertia, and confusion – bewilderment. Of the six factors, only one represents positive expressions (vigor – activity). Sixty-five adjectives were on the scale to evaluate the mood states of an individual. Multiple Affect Adjective Check List – Revised (MAACL-R scale)2,3 is an alternative to POMS scale, consisted of 5 mood categories with a total of 135 descriptors: anxiety, depression, hostility, positive effect, and sensation seeking. Brunel University Mood Scale (BRUMS)4 is a shortened version of POMS scale, consists of 24 items to assess exercise-induced mood change in the six mood dimensions previously discussed. These scales are highly dominated by the negative descriptors for the mood states which are not necessarily associated with the emotion elicited by consumption experience.

Other researchers have proposed dimensionality in human emotions. Thayer (1989)5 measured two dimensions of arousal emotions: energetic and tense. These emotions are bipolar; each term represents a continuity of mood state, with the two opposite adjectives anchoring at each end of the spectrum. Watson and Tellegen (1985)6 revealed that two dominant mood dimensions exist: Positive Affect and Negative Affect. Other factors involved are pleasantness and level of engagement which represent terms that are a fusion of the two. Based on this finding, Watson et al. (1988)7 developed a Positive Affect-Negative Affect Scale (PANAS) to assess a person’s feeling during a certain time frame. Mayer and Gaschke (1988)8 indicated that mood may be experienced on two levels: direct and reflective. They developed Mood-State Introspection Scale (MIS) containing two emotion adjectives representing the determined eight mood states (happy, loving, calm, energetic, fearful/anxious, angry, tired, and sad), resulting in a total of 16 terms.

Most scales discussed previously were developed for clinical practice and used to assess general mood states in humans. Consumption is a distinctive behavior and is a positive experience. From the 1990’s, emotions associated with product consumptions were investigated. Researchers attempted to capture terminologies associated with positive emotions and developed comprehensive lists of emotions involved in an overall consumption experience. Laros & Steenkamp (2005)9 provided a model for consumer emotions using emotion terms drawn from previous literature and proposed 33 emotion terms. Rousset et al. (2005)10 developed an extensive emotion list and 70 terms were validated to describe emotions experienced by French women. Desmet & Schifferstein (2008)11 proposed a way to measure complex emotions toward product design using a non-verbal, cross-cultural tool called PrEmo® (Product Emotion Measurement Tool). PrEmo® consists of 14 animation characters expressing 7 positive and 7 negative emotions. It is primarily used to assess the intensity of each elicited emotion by the product appearance. Most recently, King & Meiselman (2009)12 developed an EsSense Profile™, using the adjectives from POMS and MAACL-R scales. Terms were validated based on the clarity and usage frequency to ensure the application to a range of products. The final scale consisted of 39 emotions to represent consumer affective responses towards food.

Could these consumption-oriented emotion scales be used for any consumable product? The answer to this is not fully known. Some products like wines and coffee may still need their own specific emotion lexicon, which needs to be researched in the future.


1 McNAIR, D. M., LORR, M., & DROPPLEMAN, L. F. (1971). Profile of mood states. San Diego: Educational and Industrial Testing Service.

2 ZUCKERMAN, M., & LUBIN, B. (1965). Manual for the multiple affect adjective check list. San Diego: Educational and Industrial Testing Service.

3 ZUCKERMAN, M., & LUBIN, B. (1985). The multiple affect adjective check list revised. San Diego: Educational and Industrial Testing Service.

4 TERRY, P. C., LANE, A. M., LANE, H. J., & KEOHANE, L. (1999). Development and validation of a mood measure for adolescents. Journal of Sports Sciences, 17, 861-872.

5 THAYER, R.E. (1989). The Biopsychology of Mood and Arousal. New York: Oxford university Press.

6 WATSON, D., & TELLEGEN, A. (1985). Toward a consensual structure of mood. Psychological Bulletin, 98, 219-235.

7 WATSON, D., CLARK, L.A., & TELLEGEN, A. (1988). Development and validation of brief measures of positive and negative affect: the PANAS scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54, 1063-1070.

8 MAYER, J.D., & GASCHKE, Y.N. (1988). The experience and meta-experience of mood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 55, 102-111.

9 LAROS, F., & STEENKAMP, J. (2005). Emotion in consumer behavior: a hierarchical approach. Journal of Business Research, 58, 1437-1445.

10 ROUSSET, S., DEISS, V., JUILLARD, E., SCHLICH, P., & DROIT-VOLET, S. (2005). Emotions generated by meat and other food products in women. British Journal of Nutrition, 94, 609-619.

11 DESMET, P.M.A., & SCHIFFERSTEIN, H.N.J. (2008). Sources of positive and negative emotions in food experience. Appetite, 50, 290-301.

12 KING, S.C., & MEISELMAN, H.L. (2009). Development of a method to measure consumer emotions associated with foods. Food Quality and Preference, 21, 168-177.