The emotional impact of cultural heritage on the public: physiological and psychological effects of multisensorial experiences

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Gianluca D'AgostinoHilary SerraClaudio Zavattaro

Abstract: Accessibility and inclusion are nowadays consolidated concepts in Cultural Heritage management and enhancement. In this regard, attention has long been focused only on audiences with disabilities, translating into projects and actions that involve people with disabilities while excluding a broader approach that takes into account the specificities of each individual. Since Cultural Heritage belongs to every individual, it represents an opportunity to apply “design for all” principles, considering the variety of publics and “non-publics”, each with different interests and needs. With the knowledge that vision is widely considered the primary sense in communication, the paper aim to investigate the role of other senses in creating an enjoyable and emotional experience of the Cultural Heritage that can enrich its perception, knowledge and memory. Though non-visual and multisensorial cultural experiences are conceived to include publics with visual difficulties, they can become enriching and valuable ways of approaching Cultural Heritage for all visitors.The study aims to investigate arousal changes related to the emotional activation of an adequate sample of visitors during Cultural Heritage experiences through different senses, except for vision. Participants will be blinded and will undergo the cultural experience with various sensorial modalities through three counterbalanced conditions that will involve, respectively, one (auditory), two (auditory and tactile) and three (auditory, tactile, and olfactory) senses. Previous international studies have already enlightened physiological measures as a reliable indicator of the visitor’s body reaction related to the emotional state of the experience. Therefore, during all the experimental sessions, non-invasive wearable devices will register cardiovascular and skin conductance measures as quantitative physiological data. Instead, regarding qualitative measures, self-reported evaluation of both emotional state and visit experience will be collected through an online questionnaire.Authors hypothesize that also when vision does not play a significant role, the more the senses involved, the more the participants’ emotional state will enhance positively. Therefore, an increase in both physiological activation and perceived positive emotions is expected in the three-senses condition compared with the one and two-senses conditions. In general, the multisensory experience is foreseen to be associated with greater emotional involvement, enjoyment, and appreciation of the cultural visit. The impacts and results of this study can be helpful in improving cultural enjoyment in a plurality of publics, opening up new scenarios for the knowledge, perception and enhancement of Cultural Heritage to strengthen the binding between heritage and people.

Keywords: Accessibility, Multisensorial Experience, Cultural Heritage, Heart Rate Variability, Emotional State

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1003331

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