Volume 11 Issue 2 (2015): Experiential Knowledge, Expertise, and Connoisseurship
Main Articles

Emotions in Risk Assessment and Decision Making Processes During Craft Practice

Camilla Groth
Aalto University
Published December 27, 2015
  • sensory experience,
  • practice-led research,
  • embodied cognition,
  • enactivism,
  • somatic-marker hypothesis,
  • emotion,
  • risk assessment
  • ...More


Traditionally subjective experiences and emotions have been overlooked in the practice of scientific research. In the field of design and craft research too, feelings and emotions have been considered as interfering with the rigour of research. However, as a result of findings in neuroscience, a new understanding has emerged, providing emotions a central role in risk assessment and decision making processes. This has implications also for how we understand craft practice. In this practice-led research, a craft practitioner analysed five video-recordings of herself while throwing clay blindfolded. The researcher-practitioner specifically studied critical incidents in the throwing process and made a detailed analysis of how sensory experiences and emotions guided her in risk assessment, decision making, and problem solving during the clay-throwing sessions. She found that her tactile experience gave her important clues on the condition of the material and its consequent possibilities at different stages. These experiences in turn affected her emotions in either positive or negative ways, affecting her risk assessment, decision making, and problem solving activities. This research has shown that sensory experiences and emotions influence the craft making process and are thus important elements in the expertise of the craftsperson. The role of such emotions remains to be studied further in the expertise of researchers in general.