Building visual worlds: using maps in qualitative psychological research on affect and emotion

McGrath, Laura; Mullarkey, Shauna and Reavey, Paula (2020). Building visual worlds: using maps in qualitative psychological research on affect and emotion. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 17(1) pp. 75–97.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14780887.2019.1577517

Abstract

One challenge facing psychological studies of affect and emotion is how we can capture the situated, located assemblage of practice involved in affective experiences: the where, how, when, who, and what of affective meaning making. Here we argue for a place for map making in the methodological toolbox of qualitative psychology. Participatory mapping is a well-established technique used in geography, planning, and community development, with a growing tradition in psychology and sociology. The examples drawn upon here are from two studies, exploring experiences of space in mental health service use and in an intentional community for people with learning disabilities. Mapping is argued to be useful both as a process and product within the construction of sense making in qualitative research. Particular strengths are argued to be locating specific affective experiences, exploring layers of ambiguous or contradictory experiences, and making materiality visible in participants’ narratives. The potential of mapping as a tool for qualitative research in affect and emotion is discussed.

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