Research Correlating Emotion and Movement


To understand the science behind correlating emotion and jerkiness of COM movement and joint sequencing in movement.

Early Findings

  • This research in the Journal of Biomechanics found that movement smoothness in the VT direction increased for anger and joy. In the ML direction, movement smoothness was not affected by emotion.
  • A sit-to-walk analysis showed sadness was associated with increased STW time, decreased peak forward and vertical COM velocities and a drop in forward COM velocity. Anger increased STW duration.
  • Unpleasant emotions correlate with an increase in mean force production.
  • In this study, subjects performed their physical task quicker after unpleasant stimuli (repeated exposure), while short exposure to unpleasant stimuli increased error rate.
  • In the paper Emotional state affects the initiation of forward gait, the authors proved that, "Exposure to the highly arousing unpleasant pictures reduced reaction times compared to all other affective conditions. Compared to the low arousing unpleasant pictures, exposure to the high and low arousing pleasant pictures increased the displacement of the COP movement during the anticipatory postural adjustment phase of gait initiation. Additionally, exposure to the low arousing pleasant pictures increased the velocity of the COP movement during the anticipatory postural adjustment phase, compared to the high and low arousing unpleasant pictures. Exposure to the high and low arousing pleasant pictures increased the velocity of the first step relative to the low arousing unpleasant pictures. These findings demonstrate that highly arousing unpleasant emotional states accelerate the initial motor response, but pleasant emotional states generally facilitate the initiation of forward gait due to the approach-oriented directional salience of the movement."
  • Another paper offers this: "The greatest posterior displacement was occasioned in response to attack or threat stimuli compared with happy faces and erotica images. Results suggest the impact of emotional states on gait behavior begins during the motor planning period before the preparatory phase of gait initiation, and manifests in center of pressure displacement alterations."
  • Additionally, it is important to note that most of this research is only available as an abstract, as the full text of the studies are locked behind paywalls. We attempted to find full text documents where possible but there was limited availability in the public domain.

  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address the stated goals.

Proposed next steps:

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Our initial research revealed that full-text versions of applicable scientific research is not always available. We propose continuing our research to find 7-10 full-text research studies relating to emotion and movement patterns. For each, we will include a link, some information on the emotions studied, some details on the technical elements of the method and the accuracy of the detection method, where available. If enough full-text studies are not available, we will source abstracts as well, as some of these do include a robust amount of information.
Alternatively, we could look at the market for developing automatic emotion detection/recognition and find 5-7 significant companies operating in this space, detailing what technology and research-validated methods they are using.