The Affect Lab: The History And Limits Of Measuring Emotion

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ISBN-13: 9781517915469
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Examines how our understanding of emotion is shaped by the devices we use to measure it Since the late nineteenth century, psychologists have used technological forms of media to measure and analyze emotion. In The Affect Lab, Grant Bollmer examines the use of measurement tools such as electrical shocks, photography,...
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Examines how our understanding of emotion is shaped by the devices we use to measure it Since the late nineteenth century, psychologists have used technological forms of media to measure and analyze emotion. In The Affect Lab, Grant Bollmer examines the use of measurement tools such as electrical shocks, photography, video, and the electroencephalograph to argue that research on emotions has confused the physiology of emotion with the tools that define its inscription. Bollmer shows that the psychological definitions of emotion have long been directly shaped by the physical qualities of the devices used in laboratory research. To investigate these devices, The Affect Lab examines four technologies related to the history of psychology in North America: spiritualist toys at Harvard University, serial photography in early American psychological laboratories, experiments on "psychopaths" performed with an instrument called an Offner Dynograph, and the development of the "electropsychometer," or "E-Meter," by Volney Mathison and L. Ron Hubbard. Challenging the large body of humanities research surrounding affect theory, The Affect Lab identifies an understudied problem in formulations of affect: how affect itself is a construction inseparable from the techniques and devices used to identify and measure it. Ultimately, Bollmer offers a new critique of affect and affect theory, demonstrating how deferrals to psychology and neuroscience in contemporary theory and philosophy neglect the material of experimental, scientific research.


  • | Author: Grant Bollmer
  • | Publisher: University Of Minnesota Press
  • | Publication Date: Sep 29, 2023
  • | Number of Pages: 290 pages
  • | Language: English
  • | Binding: Paperback
  • | ISBN-10: 1517915465
  • | ISBN-13: 9781517915469

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