I'm doing a quasi-experiment for an assignment, and the dependent variable is emotional response. FMRI is not a feasible option, so is there another good and reliable way to measure emotion without using FMRI? I'd appreciate your suggestions for other instruments.

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    $\begingroup$ I have made a recommendation below, however we would require more detail about the experiment in order to make more specific recommendations. $\endgroup$
    – Comte
    Jan 26, 2017 at 13:18
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    $\begingroup$ The only way to reliably/validly measure emotions is self-report. To increase your confidence, you can also use psychophysiology, facial expressions, behavior, but self-report is pretty much necessary and these other measures aren't sufficient. $\endgroup$
    – mrt
    Jan 27, 2017 at 4:27

1 Answer 1


You can simply use a questionnaire based measurement scale. I recommend the PANAS scale by Watson, Clark, and Tellegen (1988), which has extensive support in literature. It is a twenty-item questionnaire, utilising 5-point likert scales, that consolidates into two scales: positive, and negative affect.

In recent research, two broad, general factors--typically labeled Positive Affect (PA) and Negative Affect (NA)--have emerged reliably as the dominant dimensions of emotional experience. These factors have been identified in both intra- and interindividual analyses, and they emerge consistently across diverse descriptor sets, time frames, response formats, languages, and cultures (Clark, 2015).

The measure has cross-cultural support, unlike most measures of state based affect.

Personal note. I use this measure in most of my experiments as its quick and easy to understand for participants, and is easy to respond to. I also regularly find effects with it, even if its not what I was expecting. While it is reductionist in reducing affect into two scales, this actually makes it stronger at picking up change in affect generally.


Watson, D., Clark, L. A., & Tellegen, A. (1988). Development and Validation of Brief Measures of Positive and Negative Affect: The PANAS Scales. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(6), 1063–1070.

Crawford, J. R., & Henry, J. D. (2004). The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS): Construct validity, measurement properties and normative data in a large non‐clinical sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Clark, D. W. A. L. A. (2015). The PANAS-X: Manual for the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule - Expanded Form, 1–28.

Thompson, E. R. (2007). Development and Validation of an Internationally Reliable Short-Form of the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 38(2), 227–242. http://doi.org/10.1177/0022022106297301


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