Emotional analytics: can you tell what I’m feeling?

Nonstop communication on our computers, phones, and tablets gives us undeniable convenience. It all sounds great at first. Then, think about the countless times you’ve received a message, unsure what tone it should be read in. Does technology factor in enough emotion into its products and services?

Maybe this is because our society has recently become so aware of emotional well-being and how to achieve it. We are constantly surrounded by campaigns that encourage us to take a break from work, clear our heads, and purify our minds to relax.

These are mutually occurring patterns as technology does not portray emotion clearly, yet society puts an emphasis on emotional awareness. This then proposes a viable question: how do we continue to communicate electronically, yet integrate our emotions into our messages?

Emotional analytics (EA) is the answer. This tool allows services and companies to identify the emotions that users are experiencing at the time of utilizing their product, then collects this as data to be examined and studied later. Companies can utilize these analytics to identify their clientele’s preferences and dislikes, helping them predict client’s actions, such as “making a purchase, signing up, or voting”.

Why are companies so interested in emotions?

Our society values knowing oneself, seeking self-help as needed, and taking healthy steps to manage our feelings.

We can even look at the debate over the popular ABC show, The Bachelor. Contestants Corinne and Taylor bickering over the concept of “emotional intelligence” seems comical at first glance. Taylor, a licensed mental health counselor, claims that an emotionally intelligent person is aware of their feelings and how their actions can impact those of others. The catch phrase “emotional intelligence” swooped the Internet. It’s even one of the first results on Google if you type in “emotional”. Being unfamiliar with this term and its possible interpretation (contestant Corrine finds that being “emotionally unintelligent” is synonymous with being dim-witted) can emphasize how much value we place upon identifying and managing our emotions ourselves. 

Technology has begun to play a role in helping individuals partake in emotional self-help at the touch of a button. Take a look at a few of their pages on the iTunes Store:

How emotions connect to emotional analytics

The aforementioned applications act as stepping stones to get users comfortable with talking about and expressing emotion. They emphasize emotional health by promoting tactics of emotion tracking, such as meditation, mindfulness, and/or journaling virtually. Moreover, they encourage users to feel comfortable with disclosing their emotions and feelings within technology, an essential component of EA.

In emotional analytics, emotional feedback serves as statistical information, which can then be deciphered in order to help companies and firms understand the interests of their users and/or consumers. These analytics can suggest to companies how users may behave when faced with choices-- such as purchasing products or supporting candidates-- and subsequently help companies to implement these suggestions.

Think of the Facebook “Reaction” Bar-  One post, six emotions to choose from. You don’t have to just “like” a post on Facebook anymore; you can now like it, love it, laugh at it, be amazed at it, be upset at it, or even be angry at it, all at the touch of a button. Facebook knows what types of posts we enjoy seeing from our friends as well as those that we hate seeing (think too many snow photos during the blizzard) before we even “comment” on it. In emotional analytics, companies then utilize our opinions and reactions to cater their services and purposes to consumer’s needs and concerns. Let’s say you “LOVE” every photo of a cute puppy on your timeline. Facebook, if it chooses to use EA, will integrate more puppy photos on your timeline.

How will EA shape the future of technology?

Our devices already predict our next moves before we make them. Apple Keychain pops up, offering to enter a credit card number every time an online seller asks for payment information. When we run a simple Google search for “snow boots”, our Facebook profiles carry advertisements for snow boots when we login seconds later. When we forget to attach a document, Outlook reminds us to send it before we press enter.

Emotional analytics expands this, allowing companies to understand what engages their consumers and provides insight on what tactics can be utilized to further entice them to use their products or services in the future.

As stated on beyondverbal.com, emotional analytics can revamp the world of market research. Beyondverbal CEO Yuval Mor states, “personal devices understand our emotions and wellbeing, helping us understand better what makes us truly happy”.

Perhaps emotional analytics can help companies center advertising campaigns around the interests and concerns of their clientele better than before, in turn engaging and enticing consumers better than ever.

Even larger companies, from Unilever to Coca-Cola, are also beginning to utilize emotional analytics, seeing it as the “‘next frontier’ of big data”, according to Campaignlive.co.uk. Software that recognizes facial expressions (pleased, confused, intrigued) is being developed, as well as coding that can capture and interpret application user’s feelings. Altogether, these can be applied to help companies decide what consumers want more of, want less of, and what they are neutral towards.

Mikhel Jaatma, CEO of Realeyes, an emotion measurement firm, notes that EA is the “faster and cheaper” method of gathering data, in comparison to online surveys or polls


This could certainly be true; maybe a facial expression is worth a thousand words. Classic surveys do not always necessarily yield the most raw, pure form of data. People can opt from participating, they can provide slightly false answers, they may not understand the question at hand, or they may rush through the questionnaire, answering questions without detailed explanations. EA can grasp user’s raw and genuine reactions and feelings within a more accurate scope, leading companies to develop more extensive plans for their future products, campaigns and services. 

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