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Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM)


The Self-Assessment Manikin (SAM) scales developed by Bradley & Lang in the 1980‘s are a pictorial rating system to obtain self-assessments of experienced emotions on the dimensions affective valence, dominance and arousal.

A paper-pencil or computer based version can be used in an experimental procedure.

Due to the non-verbal design it is usable regardless of the age, educational or cultural background of the probands.

To measure "Joy of Use" SAM is suitable with restriction, because it measures only a global emotional status. It does not allow to infer the factors which caused joy.

Self-Assessment Manikin Scale Examples

The following scale examples are taken from
Irtel, H. (2007). PXLab: The Psychological Experiments Laboratory [Online]. Version 2.1.11. Mannheim: University of Mannheim. Available at: <http://www.pxlab.de>[Accessed: 11 March 2009].

5-step SAM Scale for Valence

5-step SAM scale for valence, www.pxlab.de

The dimension valence describes the positive or negative feeling caused by a situation, an object or an event. E.g. anger and anxiety are supposed to have negative valence, joy is supposed to have positive valence.

5-step SAM Scale for Arousal

The dimension arousal describes the perceived vigilance as a physiological and psychological condition of a person. The range reaches from excitation to doziness or boredom.

5-step SAM Scale for Dominance

The dimension dominance describes how much a person feels in control of a situation. A small manikin means that the proband feels he/she has no power to handle the situation.

A combination of a manikin with a positive valence, intense arousal and medium to high dominance can be interpreted as prototype for a joyful emotion. For Joy of Use in the context of Human Computer Interaction (HCI), the arousal level does not have to be that high.

Recommended Websites

PXLab Psychological Experiments Laboratory:

PXLab Self-Assessment-Manikin Scales:

University of Florida, NIMH Center for the Study of Emotion & Attention, Margaret M. Bradley & Peter J. Lang:

Zusatzinformationen / Extras


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For any questions or to send your Joy-of-Use-Button data sets, please send an e-mail to: