Experience Preference Theory as a New Way to Understand and Respond to Diversity

Originally aired December 10, 2013


This session will describe recent research on a new theory of the types of experiences that people prefer. The theory is called IPOP after the four key dimensions it addresses: Idea (conceptual), People (emotional), Object (visual/aesthetic), and Physical (somatic sensation). Data collected from thousands of Smithsonian museum visitors shows how these preferences influence behavior and responses in museums. A museum that wishes to serve all its visitors, including those with disabilities, needs to be aware of these preferences among its visitors, to realize how the experience preferences of staff affect what is made available, and to find ways to use this new understanding to serve visitors better.

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Andrew Pekarik J. Senior Research Analyst, Smithsonian Institution