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Hum Mov Sci. 2012 Feb;31(1):202-21. doi: 10.1016/j.humov.2011.05.001. Epub 2011 Aug 10.

Effort-Shape and kinematic assessment of bodily expression of emotion during gait.

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Department of Movement Science, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2214, USA.


The purpose of this study was to identify the movement characteristics associated with positive and negative emotions experienced during walking. Joy, contentment, anger, sadness, and neutral were elicited in 16 individuals, and motion capture data were collected as they walked while experiencing the emotions. Observers decoded the target emotions from side and front view videos of the walking trials; other observers viewed the same videos to rate the qualitative movement features using an Effort-Shape analysis. Kinematic analysis was used to quantify body posture and limb movements during walking with the different emotions. View did not affect decoding accuracy except for contentment, which was slightly enhanced with the front view. Walking speed was fastest for joy and anger, and slowest for sadness. Although walking speed may have accounted for increased amplitude of hip, shoulder, elbow, pelvis and trunk motion for anger and joy compared to sadness, neck and thoracic flexion with sadness, and trunk extension and shoulder depression with joy were independent of gait speed. More differences among emotions occurred with the Effort-Shape rather than the kinematic analysis, suggesting that observer judgments of Effort-Shape characteristics were more sensitive than the kinematic outcomes to differences among emotions.

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