STATES CHRONICLE – Researchers at Brigham Young University have proven that computers might be able to read our emotions in the future.
Although we may have thought of ourselves as emotionally complex and indecipherable, it turns out that in certain respects, we are quite easy to read.
Computer scientists have discovered that they can accurately determine the mood (if they are angry or calm) of computer users by tracking their movement of the mouse cursor.
In order to study this matter, they organized three different experiments, each tackling a different aspect. The first was done on a sample of 65 people while browsing the Mechanical Turk website. The subjects were first exposed to some annoying stimuli and then the movements of their cursors were observed. The researchers found that the angrier the users were the more irregular and slow – surprisingly – their movements were.
Next, they subjected 126 participants to irritating stimuli while they were using an e-commerce site and then, once again, tried to identify the angry users. Their estimations were accurate in 82% of the cases.
Finally, they had 80 people describe their emotions during the use of an online tool which also allowed them to measure the negativity of the emotions.
What were the overall findings of the experiment? First, it showed that when people are angry, they don’t move their cursors faster as one might expect. They might do so at the very beginning, but quickly become aware of the faultiness of their reaction and start doing the exact opposite, namely, moving the cursors more slowly. They do tend to become less precise when they’re clicking though.
Conversely, when they are calm, they have the propensity to make long, accurate and smooth movements.
Another finding is that when people start to experience negative emotions, they also lose their focus and become more responsive to direct stimuli. For instance, if a web page is taking too long to load, a person might lose sight of their purpose for visiting the page and lose their temper because of the long wait.
What could this information be used for, you ask? It will help with the improvement of websites by monitoring user reactions to certain features or to loading times. Receiving this type of information could aid web developers to improve aspects of web pages that are constantly causing anger and frustration.
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