Self Assessment Manikin (SAM)

Method suitability

Study type

XField studies
XLab studies
XOnline 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


SAM is an emotion assessment tool that uses graphic scales, depicting cartoon characters expressing three emotion elements: pleasure, arousal and dominance. SAM has been used often in evaluations of advertisements, and increasingly also in evaluations of products. SAM is based on the PAD emotion model of Mehrabian.


The SAM questionnaire is filled in after the user is familiar with the stimuli, e.g. the product being evaluated.


It is claimed that SAM is validated, although publications about the validation are not so clear on that; international comparison studies have been conducted; since it is a pictorial rather than a verbal scale this has advantages in certain situations; very quick to administer
used in different settings, ranging from testing the appeal of advertisments and commercials to products, interactions, etc


- same drawbacks as with all subjective scales; the dominance scale is not always easily understood by participants, and also not easy to apply in certain settings; often not included in product evaluation studies

References describing the method

Bradley, M. M., & Lang, P. J. (1994). Measuring emotion: the self-assessment manikin and the semantic differential. Journal of behavior therapy and experimental psychiatry, 25(1), 49-59.

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