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The perception of emotion from body movement in point-light displays of interpersonal dialogue

Clarke, T.J., Bradshaw, M.F., Field, D.T. ORCID:, Hampson, S.E. and Rose, D. (2005) The perception of emotion from body movement in point-light displays of interpersonal dialogue. Perception, 34 (10). pp. 1171-1180. ISSN 0301-0066

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1068/p5203


We examined whether it is possible to identify the emotional content of behaviour from point-light displays where pairs of actors are engaged in interpersonal communication. These actors displayed a series of emotions, which included sadness, anger, joy, disgust, fear, and romantic love. In experiment 1, subjects viewed brief clips of these point-light displays presented the right way up and upside down. In experiment 2, the importance of the interaction between the two figures in the recognition of emotion was examined. Subjects were shown upright versions of (i) the original pairs (dyads), (ii) a single actor (monad), and (iii) a dyad comprising a single actor and his/her mirror image (reflected dyad). In each experiment, the subjects rated the emotional content of the displays by moving a slider along a horizontal scale. All of the emotions received a rating for every clip. In experiment 1, when the displays were upright, the correct emotions were identified in each case except disgust; but, when the displays were inverted, performance was significantly diminished for some ernotions. In experiment 2, the recognition of love and joy was impaired by the absence of the acting partner, and the recognition of sadness, joy, and fear was impaired in the non-veridical (mirror image) displays. These findings both support and extend previous research by showing that biological motion is sufficient for the perception of emotion, although inversion affects performance. Moreover, emotion perception from biological motion can be affected by the veridical or non-veridical social context within the displays.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:14119

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