Breda University of Applied Sciences Experience Lab

About the lab

In the BUAS Experience Lab we study experiences. Together with researchers from different academic backgrounds we do research in fields such as leisure, tourism and media. We measure, amongst others, attentional and emotional engagement during experience through brain activity (EEG), physiological activity (heart rate and skin conductance), and behavioural measures. Using wearable technology, emotional responses are measured not just in the lab but also in the field, for example, during a rollercoaster ride, or a visit to a museum. Measurements are mapped out over time and space (using outdoor and indoor positioning systems), allowing for an objective measurement of experiences.
For a brief video about the Experience Lab, visit:

Featured research (20)

Experience is a central concept in hospitality, tourism, leisure and events, both for academic researchers and industry professionals. Emotions are a core element of experiences. Virtual reality technology has various applications within the hospitality, tourism, leisure and events sectors and is considered a substitute for many real experiences, therefore it is crucial to analyse to what extent the emotions evoked by a virtual reality experience are similar to the one's evoked by a real-life experience. The present study will make this comparison between a theme park dark ride attraction and its virtual reality version. 185 participants were randomly allocated to these versions of the ride and, immediately after the lived experience, answered a questionnaire regarding experience impact, emotions and presence. Data has just been collected and will be analysed soon. The experience reconstruction method will be used to analyse participants emotional valence and arousal during the different moments of the ride.
Experience is one of the most important constructs in tourism and leisure and as such has received much attention in the scientific tourism and leisure literature. However, at the same time, in the same literature, there is remarkably little conceptual clarity about what exactly constitutes an experience. Recent accounts have tried to change this status quo and have suggested various constituent processes of experience that have already been pick up by various tourism and leisure researchers.This dissertation focuses on emotions as one of the crucial building blocks of experience, as emotions have been argued to be a determining factor for making leisure experiences memorable. Only when experiences are memorable, they can lead to downstream experience outcomes, such as evaluations and behavior. In particular, this dissertation focuses on the temporal dynamics of emotions over the course of tourism and leisure experiences, as it is these temporal dynamics in specific that are of relevance for an experience's memorability and thus its evaluation. The aim of the dissertation was thus to study the relationship between the temporal dynamics of emotions in a tourism and leisure experience and how this experience was evaluated. To this end, a variety of tourism and leisure experiences were examined at different timescales across four empirical studies: from an experience in its entire length (VR movie and musical theatre show) and the individual episodes within an experience (musical theatre show) to the individual events that are the ignitors of an emotional response to begin with (attending to artworks). Several research methods were used in tandem to get a more comprehensive picture of the emotional dynamics at play: from a newly developed self-report-based Experience Reconstruction Method (ERM) to fine-grained physiological measures that can measure emotions with sub-second precision from both body (skin conductance) and brain (EEG). Findings show that the temporal dynamics of emotions in tourism and leisure experiences are strongly related to evaluations of those same experiences. However, this relationship is not straightforward. First, not all episodes within an experience are equally strongly related to its overall evaluations: some are positively related to overall experience evaluations, some are negatively related and some are not related at all. In capturing the temporal dynamics of emotion throughout an entire experience, average emotion measures seem a better representation than peak-and-end related measures of emotion. However, for individual episodes within that experience, peak measures of emotion provide a better representation than average measures of emotion. In capturing these measures of emotion, both established physiological measures of emotion (i.e., skin conductance and EEG) and the newly developed ERM have their merits. ERM-based measures prevail over skin conductance measures for evaluating structured experience designs and design interventions, yet skin conductance prevails over ERM-based measures when predicting overall evaluations from the temporal dynamics of the emotions throughout an experience. Finally, approaching experience as a temporal phenomenon that can be cut into experiential episodes allows for better predicting how an experience will be evaluated than approaching experience as a single. In further enhancing our understanding of experience, it is thus wise to keep an eye on the aspect of time.
Inaugural address delivered on June 10th, 2022 in formal acceptance of the full professorship of Leisure and Tourism Experience at Tilburg University, the netherflands
An increasing body of research has addressed what a tourism experience is and how it should best be measured and managed. One conclusion has been to recommend observational methods such as facial expression analysis. The chapter uses facial expression analysis to determine whether the emotions of employees in the tourism industry affect the emotions of their customers, following a pattern of emotional contagion. The findings show that emotional valence and arousal are both contagious. Furthermore, the findings show that arousal is less contagious at a higher likelihood to recommend, likely due to higher employee arousal during approximately the middle third of their conversation. Furthermore, findings demonstrate that emotion measurement is now possible at reasonable convenience for the tourism industry and gives a unique insight into tourists' actual experiences that is more precise and valid than self-report alone, though with certain costs and stringent methodological limitations.
Aesthetic experiences have an influence on many aspects of life. Interest in the neural basis of aesthetic experiences has grown rapidly in the past decade, and fMRI studies have identified several brain systems supporting aesthetic experiences. Work on the rapid neuronal dynamics of aesthetic experience, however, is relatively scarce. This study adds to this field by investigating the experience of being aesthetically moved by means of ERP and time–frequency analysis. Participants' electroencephalography (EEG) was recorded while they viewed a diverse set of artworks and evaluated the extent to which these artworks moved them. Results show that being aesthetically moved is associated with a sustained increase in gamma activity over centroparietal regions. In addition, alpha power over right frontocentral regions was reduced in high- and low-moving images, compared to artworks given intermediate ratings. We interpret the gamma effect as an indication for sustained savoring processes for aesthetically moving artworks compared to aesthetically less-moving artworks. The alpha effect is interpreted as an indication of increased attention for aesthetically salient images. In contrast to previous works, we observed no significant effects in any of the established ERP components, but we did observe effects at latencies longer than 1 sec. We conclude that EEG time–frequency analysis provides useful information on the neuronal dynamics of aesthetic experience.

Lab head

Marcel Bastiaansen
  • Academy for Leisure & Academy for Tourism
About Marcel Bastiaansen
  • Prof. dr. Marcel Bastiaansen is trained both in Experimental Psychology (MSc) and Cognitive Neuroscience(PhD). Since 2021 he is a full professor in Leisure and Tourism Studies at BUas and at Tilburg University. Marcel leads a research group studying the EEG and physiological correlates of emotions and experiences in leisure and tourism, and he is the co-founder and director of BUas’ Experience Lab. Here's a brief video about the Experience Lab:

Members (6)

Ondrej Mitas
  • Breda University of Applied Sciences
Pieter de Rooij
  • Breda University of Applied Sciences
Wim Strijbosch
  • Breda University of Applied Sciences
Moji Shahvali
  • Breda University of Applied Sciences
Juriaan van Waalwijk
  • Breda University of Applied Sciences
Ana Carolina Jordão
  • Breda University of Applied Sciences

Alumni (2)

Anna Praat
  • Breda University of Applied Sciences
Coen van Bendegom
  • Breda University of Applied Sciences