The secrets your skin reveals

Using galvanic skin response at the Deloitte Neuroscience Institute

One of the methods used at the Deloitte Neuroscience Institute (DNI) is the measurement of skin conductance by means of galvanic skin response, short GSR

Skin conductance is a measure of transpiration (i.e. how much we sweat) and allows conclusions as to whether a person is bored or tense. This information about an emotional state can be employed by the DNI to test and optimize communications to achieve their desired (emotional) responses.

The Deloitte Neuroscience Institute offers – among other things:

  • Design of targeted and emotionally appealing marketing materials
  • Increasing the attractiveness of talks and presentations
  • Identification of sources of frustration when using software 
  • Design of more intuitive and user-friendly software processes to improve usability

The method of GSR is based on the correlation between our mental and physiological reactions – transpiration is such an example. When we experience stress or joy, we begin to sweat. This is also the case when experiencing emotions such as anger or frustration. From the transpiration, the intensity of our emotional arousal can be derived, but not the type of emotion. Conversely, during boredom or relaxation transpiration is decreased. GSR can measure changes of transpiration with high sensitivity. For this purpose, two electrodes are attached to the hands of the test person. From the voltage difference across the electrodes, the conductivity of the skin is calculated.

Thus, GSR provides information about the stress level of a person. At the DNI, we complement these results with additional neuroscientific methods, such as EEG, eye tracking and facial coding. This enables us to visualize both the mental and emotional response of participants.

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