Understanding the link between emotions and the audio listening experience.

Diary Study

Image by Karl-Erik Bennion | Retrieved from https://www.freeimages.com/photo/music-to-my-ears-1459863


This project is about understanding people’s current behaviour, emotions, and experiences listening to audio entertainment by using the research method of “Diary Study”, as part of the Empathic Research Frameworks class of my User Experience Design Program at Humber College.

This study shows how the participant’s emotional state changed after listening to audio entertainment. These emotional states shifted in different ways, but in the majority of cases, users went from negative mood to positive mood. After reviewing the data, we have identified eight themes to understand the participant’s behaviour.

This report comprehends the process of the planning, conducting, analyzing and reporting phases of the study.

This is my research report of the work done by Group 1.

Scenario: Audio Experiences

A music streaming service company have found in recent years the space is more crowded and harder to compete in. You’ve been hired by the client to help them understand people’s current behaviour, emotions, and experiences listening to audio entertainment (e.g., music, podcasts, radio, audiobooks, etc.) so that they can identify gaps and/or improve the experience.

Phase 1 — Plan

The Planning Phase started with a group meeting to review and discuss our research framework based on the project scenario we were given. This process led us to define a goal statement to find our Research Question and Prompt to be used by participants in the study. For this, we narrowed our thinking to understand the link between emotions and the audio listening experience.

The structure of our research framework for the study consist of one open-ended question and two closed-ended questions. In addition, we included a non-mandatory request asking users to upload an image file related of the audio entertainment they were listening at the moment they decided to submit a diary entry (e.g., a screenshot of music player). This extra information could help us identify insights related to the emotions of the users and their audio experiences.

The study had a total of six participants submitting between 3–5 entries per day. Each participant was monitored by one of our group members during the three days of the data collection.

As data collection platform we used Google Forms, due to its friendly interface for the participants, as well as the analytics tools they provide for the responses.

Research Question

What is the link between emotions and the audio listening experience?

Prompt used by participants

“Please submit a diary entry after you voluntarily listen to a form of audio entertainment.”
Research Framework Planning Process

Phase 2 — Run Study

As an introduction to the study, a welcoming email message was sent to the participants (previously briefed about the project), inviting them to complete the diary form whenever they were voluntarily listening to audio entertainment. For this, we provided them with a hyperlink to the Entry Form and included a list of instructions for the participants to fill the form.

In the form, we asked the participants to write their name for monitoring and analysis purposes.

The study was run for three days from December 7th to December 9th 2017.

Diary Entry Form
Reminder to participants

Phase 3 — Analyze

Although this study was developed as a group, in my case I had to carry out my own process of affinity and identification of themes due to not being present on the day of the analysis of the collected data. Therefore, I present in this report information analyzed from another perspective with the intention of enriching the research.

For the analysis of the collected data, the six participants were identified as P1, P2, P3, P4, P5 and P6. This ID numbers were used to analyze their emotional changes and their entries were divided into twelve clusters that later on went down to eight themes that were used to interpret their experiences and behaviour.

The findings revealed that out of 50 responses, participants experienced a change in their mood positively in 33 opportunities. As well as no change in their mood in 15 times. On two occasions, there was a negative change in the mood of the participant.

The findings also revealed that participants listened to audio entertainment mostly to distract themselves while commuting during the day.

Also, as the second main influence, participants were listening to audio entertainment was to entertain themselves, and to listen to audio entertainment while completing tasks such as cleaning the house as the third main reason.

Results showed that participants listened to audio entertainment to get focused while they were working, as well as to gain knowledge about interesting content to them, from a lecture to a weather forecast.

Affinity Diagram
Affinity Diagram

Phase 4 — Report


After analyzing the data, eight themes were identified to understand the participant’s emotions, behaviour, and experiences and its link with the audio entertainment. These themes capture the influence of their responses, and it is presented in the order of quantity of responses to be considered by the company who requested the study.

What influenced you to listen to that audio?

Distraction (10)

Participants who listened to audio entertainment while they were doing other activities such as commuting from work.

Leisure (9)

Participants who listened to audio entertainment to engage with a cheerful environment and family members.

Information (7)

Participants who listened to audio entertainment to gain knowledge and to know about specific information such as weather forecast.

Mood (5)

Participants who listened to audio entertainment to change their mood. I the majority of cases, they change from a negative mood to a positive mood. However, there were a couple of cases were the participant changed from positive to negative mood.

Tasks (5)

Participants who listened to audio entertainment while completing tasks such as cleaning the house or cooking.

Focus (4)

Participants who listened to audio entertainment to focus on their work.

Relaxation (2)

Participants who listened to audio entertainment to feel more relaxed. In these cases, participants experienced a significant change in their emotions.

Experiences (2)

Participants who listened to audio entertainment when attending to an event.


A diary study allows researchers to obtain qualitative data about user behaviour, emotions, and experiences. For this project, we had the chance to get involved in all of the phases that shape the study, learning about the method and also reflecting on it. In my case, I have identified two aspects for what I believe we as a group need to reflect on for future diary study projects.

1. To focus more on the participant
By presenting the project and its characteristics to them in a more precise way regarding the Entry instructions and Prompt. I believe some participants didn’t understand the purpose of our study.

2. Better monitoring while conducting the study
I noticed that some participants were submitting vague entries, as well as fewer entries after a couple of days (see graphic in appendix). A responsive feedback structure could solve this.


Number of daily responses
Graphic of responses BEFORE listening to audio entertainment.
Graphic of responses AFTER listening to audio entertainment.
Analysis of the changes in the participant’s mood.
Participant’s Audio Entertainment

Written by Fernando Rivero — UX Design student at Humber College.

Contact: fernandojrivero@gmail.com