If you have young children like mine, you might be familiar with a game called Whoonu. It’s a simple game about your favorite things. There’s a big stack of cards, and each card lists some thing or activity. In the game, you take six cards and then pick a couple that you think would be the favorites of a designated player called the "whoosit." Each round a new player becomes the whoosit. The whoosit’s job is to take the cards selected by the other players and place them in order from most to least favorite. You get more points for picking a card the whoosit likes more. After everyone has a turn as whoosit, the player with the most points wins.
Ok, so here’s the interesting thing. I’m sure you could list your favorite fruits or bands or restaurants, but can you order the following things, for example, in the same way:
- snowball fights
- remote control
- the high dive
- taking naps
What is the basis for comparing apples to oranges or apples to eBay for that matter? Well, it’s not that hard. I mean, a five-year old can do it, right? But how do you do it? You have to test your feelings for "snowball fights" versus your feelings for "daydreams" or "naps." Not to over-analyze a childhood game (fort/da anyone?) but I would suggest that we are looking at "pure" affectivity here.
Now, obviously these are culturally value-laden objects and practices, but we have no clear cultural mechanism for organizing and ordering all of these items (and this would be a typical list). Thus while our reactions stem from memory, culture and other subjective-ideological responses, in comparing those reactions we must rely upon a measurement of affective instensity.
I’m thinking it’s an interesting, creative exercise to develop this type of general affective sensitivity.