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Computers Know When You're Angry, Study Reveals New Findings

First Posted: Dec 14, 2015 03:46 PM EST
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People can tell when you are angry. However, a study from researchers at Brigham Young University found that your computer mouse can determine when you're angry too, based on the mouse's movements.

The researchers found that people who experience anger and other types of negative emotions are less precise with their mouse movements and they move the cursor at different speeds. With new technology, the BYU researchers can detect can use your cursor movements to determine your emotional state.

"Using this technology, websites will no longer be dumb. Websites can go beyond just presenting information, but they can sense you," Professor Jeffrey Jenkins, coauthor of the study, said in a news release. "They can understand not just what you're providing, but what you're feeling."

The researchers claimed that when a computer user is upset or frustrated, their mouse no longer follows a straight or curved pattern. Their movements become jagged and sudden, a person with negative emotion actually moves a mouse slower.

"It's counter-intuitive, people might think, 'When I'm frustrated, I start moving the mouse faster. Well, no, you actually start moving slower," Jenkins said.

Jenkins' cursor-tracking concept can be applied to mobile devices, where taps and swipes can replace mouse movements. Jenkins' applications to mobile devices is still in its early stages, but he believes that phones and tablets can provide huge amounts of data.

"Traditionally it has been very difficult to pinpoint when a user becomes frustrated, leading them to not come back to a site," Jenkins said. "Being able to sense a negative emotional response, we can adjust the website experience to eliminate stress or to offer help."

The findings of this study were published in MIS Quarterly.

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