Hotspex releases earthquake "emotional response" survey results

TORONTO, June 24 /CNW/ - Yesterday, Eastern Canada was rocked by the largest earthquake to strike the region in more than a decade.

But are 'rocked' and 'strike' really the right words? Or do we just use them to hit an emotional chord - and what was the real reaction around this 'moving' experience?

What did YOU really feel when the earth moved, and how was that different to the rest of us?

Hotspex, a Toronto-based research firm specializing in tracking emotional responses, decided to find out. They spoke to more than 750 people about the 'ground shake' covering Eastern Canada and the North-Eastern United States.

According to David Pyke, VP of Research at Hotspex: "Negative emotions (apprehension, shock, stress and worry) increased as the sensation of the earthquake increased. This is something you would expect. But an interesting emotional reaction was that for those who experienced it 'weakly' they reflected a strong sense of disappointment and of 'being left out'. Fascination and amazement was the main emotional reaction for those who had a 'moderate' sensation, being replaced by fear for those who had a strong experience."

These respondents were mainly in Ottawa, Toronto and New York City. They covered a broad age range and were from all walks of life.

According to Pyke, 95% of people in Ottawa, who were closest to the epicentre, felt the earthquake, and four out of every five of them described it as 'strong'. In Toronto, 62% of people felt it, although most of them were in tall buildings where it was accentuated. Two-thirds of these people in Toronto said it was 'weak'. Just 18% of people noticed the quake in New York and 83% of them felt it was weak*.

Yet in all three places the majority of people didn't initially think it was an earthquake at all. The most common immediate interpretation of the shaking was that it was caused by "...a large truck going past the building...".

Some others commented that they thought they were having a 'dizzy spell', were 'having a stroke' or were 'losing their mind'. One man in Ottawa said, "I didn't understand why my bed was shaking. Frankly, the first thing that came to mind was that I was moving down the road of being possessed, a la the exorcism movie."

Interestingly, comparatively few people jumped to the conclusion it was a caused by a bomb or some sort of terrorist action. The few comments around this included, "I thought a bomb went off or a plane had hit a building...", "...someone had bombed the subway...".

One security officer said: "I thought someone was trying to blow up the building... since I work at National Defence Headquarters and with all the G20/G8 stuff going on, who knows." Although, as this interpretation is isolated, it is a good sign that generally we seem to have recovered from our nervous 'target complex' that was evident in the years immediately after the 9/11 attacks.

According to the US Geological Survey and local seismologists we can expect quakes of this magnitude once every five years or so. Hopefully the next one will be as slight where, once again, people will just ask, " it really that windy outside?"

* Note: - This is a generalized summary. Full statistical data can be provided upon request

About Hotspex

Founded over 10 years ago, Hotspex is changing the marketing world's understanding of the 'why' behind consumer behaviour through highly engaging online surveys that pinpoint emotion - the hidden truth - that drives human behaviour. Across 18 countries, decision-makers from leading manufacturers, retailers and service providers continue to rely on us for our insights, innovation and technology. Engaged consumers, by the millions, have their say in shaping products and experiences through our Take-a-survey; Plant-a-tree program.


For further information: For further information: Gera Nevolovich, Tel: +1 416 4875439 Ext 227, Cell: +1 416 568 6711, Email:

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