Originally Published In
The Qualitative Report
The Qualitative Report 2020 Volume 25,
Number 8, Article 3,
Emotions are now widely accepted as important elements of qualitative research, in studies of individuals and communities. However, collective emotional status—what a community feels about a given situation or proposition—can be challenging to assess. In this study, we examined the validity and acceptability of a new mixed methods survey tool, primarily qualitative, to address this challenge—the Assessment of Collective Emotional Status (ACES). The tool begins with an adjustable set of questions about emotion, to draw respondents’ attention to their own feelings. These are followed by an emotional self-assessment, in which respondents select and prioritize five emotional responses to a standardized stimulus, drawing from a new taxonomy of emotion words. In this study, the stimulus was a proposition that gun violence should be approached as a public health problem. We tested the tool in an international survey of public health professionals, mostly in the US and Europe (n=160). Qualitative and quantitative data were collected on knowledge and importance of emotion, adequacy of the taxonomy, emotional responses to the stimulus, and use of the tool. Scores were high for knowledge and importance of emotion. Perceived adequacy of the taxonomy was also high, especially with Black and Hispanic respondents, signifying good construct validity. The total weighted frequency of emotions in response to the stimulus was highest for encouraged (92.2%), open (78.8%), hope (77.2%) and interest (77.2%). Qualitative data yielded six themes—on knowledge of emotion, the taxonomy, responses to the stimulus, and use of the tool, which many respondents found easy and interesting to use. This study demonstrates the prima facie validity and acceptability of the ACES with an educated adult population.