Electrodermal activity measurement within a qualitative methodology : Exploring emotion in leisure experiences
Purpose: Reflecting, reliving and reforming experiences enhance longer-term effects of travel and tourism, and have been highlighted as an important aspect in determining loyalty, re-visitation and post-consumption satisfaction. The purpose of this paper is to develop new methodological approaches to investigate emotion, memory creation and the resulting psychosocial effects. Design/methodology/approach: The paper proposes a unique combination of physiological measures and photoelicitation-based discussions within a longitudinal design. A physiological measuring instrument (electrodermal activity [EDA] tracking technology through Empatica E4 wristbands) is utilised to capture the “unadulterated” emotional response both during the experience and in reliving or remembering it. This is combined with post-experience narrative discussion groups using photos and other artefacts to give further understanding of the process of collective memory creation. Findings: EDA tracking can enhance qualitative research methodologies in three ways: through use as an “artefact” to prompt reflection on feelings, through identifying peaks of emotional response and through highlighting changes in emotional response over time. Empirical evidence from studies into participatory arts events and the potential well-being effects upon women over the age of 70 is presented to illustrate the method. Originality/value: The artificial environment created using experimental approaches to measure emotions and memory (common in many fields of psychology) has serious limitations. This paper proposes new and more “natural” methods for use in tourism, hospitality and events research, which have the potential to better capture participants’ feelings, behaviours and the meanings they place upon them.