Differential Emotions Scale (DES)

Method suitability

Study type

XField studies
XLab studies
Online studies

Development phase

Early prototypes
XFunctional prototypes
XProducts on market

Studied period of experience

Before usage
XAn episode
Long-term UX

Evaluator / Info provider

UX experts
XOne user at a time
Groups of users
Pairs of users




XWeb services
XPC software
XMobile software
XHardware designs


Trained researcher
Special equipment


The Differential Emotions Scale (DES) is a standardized instrument that reliably divides the individual's description of emotion experience into validated, discrete categories of emotion. The DES was formulated to gouge the emotional state of individuals at that specific point in time when they are responding to the instrument.

e) Theoretical background: theories/models underlying the tool/method
Izard, 1972, 1977


The DES instructions ask the respondents to consider the experience they described and to rate how often s/he experienced each emotion item during the experience. The DES is formulated around a thirty-item adjective checklist, with three adjectives of each of the ten emotions that are considered to be fundamental by Izard (1992): joy,surprise, anger, disgust, contempt, shame, guilt, fear, interest, and sadness. Each item is administered on a 5-point (never to very often) scale.


validated instrument, backed by extensive research; not specifically designed for use in product evaluation settings.


same drawbacks as with all subjective scales; The DES was not developed with product design in mind and may not include all emotions relevant for product experience. In addition, some emotions that are relevant may be missing.

References describing the method


3 comments to Differential Emotions Scale (DES)

  • Miriam Ortiz de Guinea

    Hi- I´m studying different tools for measuring UX, where could I find more information about that? I can´t see the page linked above. I also would like to know if it is a specific software or not. Thanks.

  • Mary Ann Looby

    Hi – I’m teaching a class and would appreciate getting a copy of your assessment for educational purposed. thanks.

Leave a Reply to Miriam Ortiz de Guinea




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