Let's start by taking a look at the scale itself.
Intention and usage of this tool
- The DORVA scale is intended to be a simple, fast, and affordable means of producing self-reported data to measure the positivity or negativity of a human subject's emotional experience in reaction to external stimuli. It's terrific for self-examination, but also suitable for documenting the emotional experiences of study participants (including your study of yourself, if you like spreadsheets!).
- While self-reported DORVA data has the benefit of being self-descriptive (i.e. a value of “repulsion” is as simple as recognising your own reflexive facial movements, unlike the results of repulsion as returned by brain scanning feedback imagery), DORVA isn't recommended as a substitute for other data production means like EEG feedback, fMRI scanning, and other emotion self-reporting models. Data should be obtained from all available sources.
You'll notice the chart doesn't list the full spectrum of human emotions.
That would be a big chart! Especially considering emotions can and routinely do occur in complex combinations; not just one at a time!
What the chart offers is a spectrum of emotional intensity to help record emotions based on their perceived severity in the moment in which they are experienced. For this reason, documenting emotions when they are felt is crucial: memory, even immediate-short-term memory, introduces too much of an error margin due to our propensity to compare how we felt about a topic to how we felt about another topic using pseudo-logic: "I was distraught when my puppy was killed yesterday, but I must have felt more distraught when my parent died years ago, so I will rank my emotions relative to each other." When in reality there is no reason that such grief for both events shouldn't have registered at a -5 (abominable) in emotional intensity for both events, for example.
Data recorded using the DORVA model doesn't cater to memory-alterations made in this way.
The name of the model, DORVA, is just an acronym for the 5 scores on the negative side of the scale. When self-evaluating, remembering the name can make recollection of the measurement chart a little easier when experiencing intense negative emotions.
The emotions listed in the chart and their defining characteristics are a usage guide only. Grief, for example, could be felt at an intensity score of -4 (Vile) without any desire to punish or cause suffering. Sincere joy could be felt at an intensity score of 3 (Joyful) without any sensation of warmth. Individuals feel emotions differently, have different physiological predispositions to causative hormones like dopamine and cortisol, and are capable of complex emotion combinations. When recording DORVA data, getting each datum exactly "right" according to the description in the chart not as valuable as logging your data as close to the time it's experienced as possible with your honest evaluation of your emotion.
This is not a perfect tool for measuring emotions. But generating any data set of emotional experience, even with an unknown error margin, is going to provide more valuable insight than undocumented observational, memory-based reflection of emotional experiences. That's the whole point of the DORVA scale! To give you a readily accessible quantitative look without any more sophisticated equipment than notebook or spreadsheet.
Next, let's talk about how you can use it.
How to create your emotion data
If you have a smartphone with Google Spreadsheets on it, you can use that. Otherwise a notebook you carry often would be suitable. Here's a template.
Baseline data: Every day when you wake up (and/or before going to bed) record a DORVA entry. This will show your emotional baseline when you start the day. It can be useful to compare this to how you end the day! (See Using your data below)
Event data: Every time you feel a strong emotion, and successfully remember to record it, and make the choice to record it... make a DORVA entry. This is a powerful way to see the range of your emotional intensity. It can also indicate a possible positive or negative bias.
Using your data
Produce an average on what your general baseline emotional state is. How do I feel about this? Do I want to improve it?
Review baseline data
Recording your baseline is a key way to see how your emotions have changed over time. If you make an entry every day for years, you may notice a difference or no change at all. But even over a period of a few weeks you can spot differences. What has changed in your life that could explain these? What other changes could you make that could get you waking up happy every day?
If you record your waking and bedtime emotional state most days, you will be able to compare these trends. Is either or both changing, or are they static over time? Are they the same emotional state?
Do you generally end the day on a more positive or negative emotional point than you began it? Why might this be the case? Is there a standout recurring difference on a particular day of the week, or between work days and days off?
What days have you had the happiest wake-up and bedtime? What days were the worst? What can you do differently to wake up and go to sleep feeling consistently contented and happy?
Review event data
Do you have records of major emotional events multiple times a day? Do you have them only some days or seldom? Are they in some places or anywhere?
Do you consider yourself an optimist, a pessimist, neither, or both? Which would you rather be?
Does the data show you have more strong negative emotional reactions than positive ones throughout a typical day?
Think about changes you might like to make to your outlook, if any. How will you achieve those?
Do you consider yourself a particularly emotional person? Does the frequency or intensity of emotionally significant events meet your expectations or surprise you? In what ways?
What significant positive events happen regularly in your life. Who are they with? Where do they happen? How might you create more of this positivity?
Do any significant negative events happen regularly in your life? What can I do to change the cause? Do you also want to change your emotional response to that cause? How will you do that?
And you can completely trust the data source, because it is an honest reflection of your emotional journey and forms part of the record of your life. Now that's something to feel good about. :)
Thanks for learning!