Evaluation will help determine strongest reactions to specific candidates and issues
TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 17, 2020) – A group of approximately 20 University of South Florida students and faculty will watch the Feb. 19 Democratic presidential debate in a unique way. They will all wear wireless sensors that measure biometric responses to determine how they react to certain candidates, issues and policies discussed during the debate. The findings will identify the “high points” and “low points” in real time.
The group will be monitored by students from the USF Muma College of Business and marketing instructor Rob Hammond, who will analyze data collected from participants watching the debate live at USF.
The viewing will take place at 9 p.m. in the Communication and Information Sciences Building at USF Tampa, room 1034.
According to Hammond, who is also the director of Muma’s state-of-the-art Center for Marketing and Sales Innovation Lab, this method differs from most polls taken after a debate because biometric responses are not filtered through the brain.
“That response can be tempered, inflated or suppressed entirely. There is also the scenario where the person responds with how they want to be perceived rather than what he or she actually thinks,” Hammond said. “With biometrics, the decision-making part of the brain is removed from the feedback. You get direct feedback on the person’s emotions. It is unfiltered.”
Results are expected within approximately one hour after the debate ends.
Hammond and the students will collect and analyze the data in collaboration with Shimmer, a wireless sensor company and one of the college’s partners. The Muma College of Business is home to one of the largest biometric labs in the world, and Shimmer has previously been used to measure reaction during the Super Bowl and a Brexit debate in the United Kingdom.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, established in 1956 and located in Tampa, is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three separately accredited institutions: USF, USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee. Serving more than 50,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.8 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF ranks in the top 25 nationally for research expenditures among public universities, according to the National Science Foundation. In 2018, the Florida Board of Governors designated USF as a Preeminent State Research University, placing USF in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.