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Measuring Affective Meaning

People around the world have three questions about everything.

bulletHow good is it?
bulletHow powerful is it?
bulletHow active is it?

People answer these questions on the basis of feelings rather than logic, so these are affective meanings. The three aspects of affective meaning are called Evaluation, Potency, and Activity (abbreviated E, P, and A).

You can find out an item's affective meaning for you, as follows.

bulletType the name of the item in the stimulus box below.
bulletClick and drag the pointer on the scale to rate how good, or how bad, you think the item is.
bulletClick the Potency button. Rate your feelings about the item's powerfulness.
bulletClick the Activity button. Rate your feelings about the item's activeness.

Your ratings get plotted in blue on horizontal axes underneath the rating scale, as you complete each rating. The numerical values of your ratings are given on the right side of the graph.

A red plot shows a culturally-defined affective meaning that is close to your ratings. Text beneath the graph identifies the culturally-defined affective meaning as a kind of person, gives the EPA values for that kind of person, and shows the distance in brackets between your EPA rating and the EPA profile for that kind of person.

You need a Java-enabled browser to view this applet.

Try out different ratings. The graph changes, and the new profile might be similar to a different kind of person. You can start over by blanking the stimulus box and typing the name of another item.

This exercise shows that feelings can be rated on graphic scales with positions defined by words, and that these ratings convert to numbers. For example, something that you rate as "quite good, nice" gets coded +2 on Evaluation. The numbers allow mathematical analysis, as in calculating which kind of person is closest to the ratings you gave.


URL: www.indiana.edu/~socpsy/ACT/SDscale.html