Museum Camp

A project of the
Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History

Santa Cruz Indigenous Solidarity Film & Fundraiser Event

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    Finding our Way

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    Event in Progress

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    Hoping they will notice us

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    Our first survey respondent!

Team Members

Jessie Johnston
Dennis Josefson
Stacey Garcia
Megan Joseph

What was your hypothesis?

Empathy drives people to take action after an activism related film screening event.

What indicator did you measure?

-Expressions of empathy in the context of taking action

-Proxies for empathy: Showing understanding of someone's situation, compassion or concern, talking about the others' point of view, empathic anger/distress

-Will also measure other potential reasons people take action: Obligation, Peer Influence, Social/Moral Responsibility, Group Identity, Personal Investment, Strong Emotions, Social Connectivity

How did you measure it?

1. Survey of participants, including:
Gender, Age, Organizational Affiliation, Why they came to event, how they feel after attending the event, did they talk to anyone new at event, do you intend to take action, why or why not and would you attend another event of on this issue in the future

2. Observation: listening for proxies to potential reasons people take action through their conversations with each other before, during and after the event.

What did you learn?

Observation Findings:
Empathy and Emotions were the most recorded motivation for action by our observers. This alone does not easily lead to the conclusion that we proved our hypothesis, however. We discovered observation was a very difficult way to measure peoples' expression of why they may want to take action. Empathy and emotion were easiest to notice, as they were expressed not just in conversation but in body language such as crying. These were also then recorded the most often. Connectivity was fairly easy to notice for the same reasons - non verbal expression. It was clear that people were connecting. We wished we had more categories included in our proxies for social connectivity, such as hugs.

As participant observers, we noticed that there was a lot of engagement and emotion in the room, and we each had an engaged and emotional experience. This experience we think is perhaps validated by what was indicated in the survey of other participants.

Survey Findings:
In general, social responsibility, personal investment, empathy seemed to be the most proven in different ways as the most motivating factors for taking action, including attending the event.
There were several factors we thought might show up that did not show up at all, including peer influence and obligation.

We had 31 people out of 102 participants fill out a survey. Respondents' ages ranged from 14 to 65. 10 were male, 20 female and 2 indicated other.

*Respondent affiliation: Slightly less than 2/3rds who completed survey were NOT affiliated with the host organizations. This may indicated that our respondents were fairly neutral in their motivations for attending the event, which lines up with peer motivation not showing up in our observations or survey responses either.

*Why they came to the event: 2/3rds of respondents expressed their reason for coming as either being empathy (recorded through proxy measurements) or desire to learn. We feel that indicates a general receptivity and openness of the audience.

*What type of action would they take: 24 out of 33 said they would take action by sharing what they learned with friends or family, about half said they would be an ethical traveler or consumer, half would participate in a protest or gathering. Only 6 out of 33 responded that they would join an organization. One person indicated they would not take action.

*Reasons to take action: According to our coding for proxy measures for the following, 11, or 1/3 of respondents indicated they would take action due to social/moral responsibility. 6 people indicated it would be due to personal investment, 5 people indicated it would be based on empathy, 2 indicated it would be based on strong emotions or group identity, and no one indicated they would take out of obligation or peer influence. It is interesting to notice that even though social responsibility is highly indicated here, participants noted strong proxies to empathy when asked to identify their emotions. Perhaps this and the next question provide a more complete picture.

*How participants felt after attending event: Compassionate was indicated the most, which was also one of our proxy measures for empathy. It was interesting to learn that empathy was noticed the most in our observations, was coded often in the result of our open ended questions of why people take action, and was noticed here most often. Inspired, empowered, engaged, sad, frustrated, troubled and moved could also all be seen as indicators of empathy as people understand and feel another's frustration and emotions. There was a lot of frustration and related emotions expressed by the speakers and those in the movie. It is challenging to make any further conclusions beyond these observations.
Compassionate - 25
Inspired - 17
Empowered - 15
Engaged - 14
Sad - 14
Frustrated - 13
Troubled - 13
Moved - 13
Hopeful - 9
Tired - 6
Ashamed - 6
Excited - 5
Afraid - 3
Calm - 3
Happy - 2
Confused - 2
Refreshed - 2
Pain - 2
Appalled - 2
Exhilarated - 2
Apathetic - 1

Our Conclusion:

We learned that it seems important to evoke emotion for an event to be meaningful to participants.
We feel confident in saying that social responsibility and empathy are strong indicators of people being engaged in the event and willing to take action.

Any surprises?

The opening of the event included several expressions of indigenous spirituality, including honoring the 4 directions and traditional songs. As researchers, we immediately noticed that we had not thought of the spiritual aspect of taking action or social connectivity and it wasn't reflected in our possible reasons or proxies. We were surprised that peer influence and a sense of duty or obligation did not show up in our observations or survey responses. We were surprised by our how emotionally moved we were as participant observers. We were surprised that the audience stayed for the entire 3 hour event with very few leaving. The audience seemed to be very engaged and emotionally invested. There was a lot of deep respect shown for what was being shared, we think because there was personal sharing and powerful speakers - not just the film screening. We found it interesting that as researchers it was difficult to conduct research while expressing a deep respect for what was happening at the event. Overall, in measuring peoples' motivation to take action, this was a brief and broad sweep over a behavioral process that includes many steps. People need knowledge to change attitude which then influences beliefs and eventually changes behavior. We intercepted people at varying spaces on this continuum and tried to assess their motivation for action from where they were. It would be interesting to assess where they were on the continuum first, and how this influenced their motivation for action.