Galvanic Skin Response (GSR)

What is Galvanic Skin Response (GSR)?

Whenever you experience an emotional reaction to a stimulus, your body responds by producing sweat, which increases your skin’s electrical conductivity (called electrodermal activity). Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) is a measure of skin conductivity, and is perhaps most well-known as an element of the polygraph (lie-detector) test.

Even if you can’t feel yourself sweating, nearly imperceptible changes in skin conductivity can tell scientists a lot about what you’re experiencing. In fact, social scientists have studied how the body’s sweat response is linked to emotions since the 1930s.

What can GSR tell us?

While we aren’t in the business of detecting lies, GSR is a major component of our biometric toolkit here at Moore DM Group’s Neuro-Fundraising Lab. We use GSR to understand what elements of fundraising campaigns are emotionally engaging for potential donors, and what elements fall flat.

How does GSR work?

We attach small electrodes to a respondent’s hand to measure their skin conductivity as they observe a stimulus. The devices passes a very small electrical current between electrodes, which calculates conductivity.

Our software syncs this data with a timestamped stimulus, such as a DRTV ad or recording of interactions with direct mail materials. We can then overlay data from multiple participants to find out what elements of the fundraising campaign were most and least engaging to the average respondent.

How can GSR help your organization?

GSR is a great tool to help your organization find answers to questions like:

  • Did the respondent find the campaign content emotionally arousing?
  • What was the intensity of the respondent’s emotional connection to the content?
  • Were there specific moments of emotional disengagement?
  • When aggregated, what patterns are present in how respondents engaged or disengaged with the content?

Want to learn more?

There are many resources you can check out for more information on the science behind GSR, one of our favorites is:

Contact us today to find out how Moore DM Group’s Neuro-Fundraising Lab can put our GSR technology to work for your organization.

*Note: We use iMotions software in our lab. But this didn’t influence our inclusion of this infographic.