Evaluating the Emotion Ontology through use in the self-reporting of emotional responses at an academic conference

J Biomed Semantics. 2014 Sep 3;5:38. doi: 10.1186/2041-1480-5-38. eCollection 2014.


Background: We evaluate the application of the Emotion Ontology (EM) to the task of self-reporting of emotional experience in the context of audience response to academic presentations at the International Conference on Biomedical Ontology (ICBO). Ontology evaluation is regarded as a difficult task. Types of ontology evaluation range from gauging adherence to some philosophical principles, following some engineering method, to assessing fitness for purpose. The Emotion Ontology (EM) represents emotions and all related affective phenomena, and should enable self-reporting or articulation of emotional states and responses; how do we know if this is the case? Here we use the EM 'in the wild' in order to evaluate the EM's ability to capture people's self-reported emotional responses to a situation through use of the vocabulary provided by the EM.

Results: To achieve this evaluation we developed a tool, EmOntoTag, in which audience members were able to capture their self-reported emotional responses to scientific presentations using the vocabulary offered by the EM. We furthermore asked participants using the tool to rate the appropriateness of an EM vocabulary term for capturing their self-assessed emotional response. Participants were also able to suggest improvements to the EM using a free-text feedback facility. Here, we present the data captured and analyse the EM's fitness for purpose in reporting emotional responses to conference talks.

Conclusions: Based on our analysis of this data set, our primary finding is that the audience are able to articulate their emotional response to a talk via the EM, and reporting via the EM ontology is able to draw distinctions between the audience's response to a speaker and between the speakers (or talks) themselves. Thus we can conclude that the vocabulary provided at the leaves of the EM are fit for purpose in this setting. We additionally obtained interesting observations from the experiment as a whole, such as that the majority of emotions captured had positive valence, and the free-form feedback supplied new terms for the EM.

Availability: EmOntoTag can be seen at http://www.bioontology.ch/emontotag; source code can be downloaded from http://emotion-ontology.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/apps/emontotag/and the ontology is available at http://purl.obolibrary.org/obo/MFOEM.owl.