Validating an emotional feedback tool for architecture: investigating the conditioning imparted by instructed emotional assessment in a virtual environment

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DC I/O 2020 proceeding by PATRICK HORNE.


Virtual environments present architects with a new feedback tool to assess the emotional effects of their designs. This paper examines whether the process of verbally instructing a participant to assess their emotional reaction to a virtual environment conditions their subsequent emotional response. If proved true, this paper will assess whether this conditioning occurs in a correlated pattern among participants that can be quantified and therefore omitted within future applications. By calculating this, we move one step closer to evaluating the true effect of an environment upon a participant’s emotions, validating the data collected through this new form of public consultation proposed for architectural practice. Two groups of participants were placed within an immersive virtual environment, whilst during the experiment a quantified measure of emotional arousal and binary measure of valence were taken using skin conductance analysis and behavioural analysis accordingly. One group of participants were verbally instructed to assess their emotional response of pleasure to the environment, whilst the control group remained uninstructed. The physiological readings from these two groups were then contrasted to ascertain whether instructed self-assessment conditioned the participants internal response of pleasure. The results of the experiment proved inconclusive and analysis of the data gathered was unable to confirm or refute the tests central hypothesis. Whilst further statistical analysis upon this data-set may prove successful, the experiment was highly instructive in how further work may be carried out to provide more valuable results. Additionally, planning and administering this experiment raised several points of reflection regarding this proposed emotional design methodology that are raised in a subsequent discussion.


Virtual Reality, Environmental Psychology, Emotion, Phenomenology


virtual environment (340), virtual reality (160), environmental psychology (130), emotional response (120), emotional arousal (100), skin conductance (96), architectural design (90), architectural practice (90), design process (90), skin conductance analysis (63), participant skin conductance (63), immersive virtual environment (63), control group (50), instructed group (50), self assessment (50), evidence based design (47), human scale immersive vr system (46), baseline measurement (40), architectural design evaluation tool (40), public consultation (40), visual stimulus (40), self assess (40), built environment (40), measuring emotion (40), emotional reaction (40), feedback tool (40)


Architecture, Calculation and Design Analysis, Data Visualization and Analysis for design, Design Cognition, Responsive computer-aided design, Simulation;, Visual and Spatial Modelling;, Visualization & Communication.



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Full text: Maciel, A. (Ed.), 2020. Design Computation Input/Output 2020, 1st ed. Design Computation, London, UK. ISBN: 978-1-83812-940-8, DOI:10.47330/DCIO.2020.QPRF9890