Computer As Therapist: It Knows When You're Mad

Now this is a little eerie.

Computers supposedly know when we're angry.

It's not from banging on the keys.  Or shrieking at it, "You saved it, didn't you?!"  Would you believe it's from the movement of your mouse?

Brigham Young University information systems experts say people experiencing anger (and other negative emotions--frustration, confusion, sadness) become less precise in their mouse movements and move the cursor at different speeds.

Thanks to advances in modern technology, the team can now gather and process enough data points from  cursor movement to measure those deviations and indicate an emotional state.

 Using this technology, websites will no longer be dumb," Jenkins said. "Websites can go beyond just presenting information, but they can sense you. They can understand not just what you're providing, but what you're feeling."

According to research, when users are upset or confused, the mouse no longer follows a straight or gently curving path. Instead, movements become jagged and sudden. Additionally, someone exhibiting negative emotions moves a mouse slower.

"It's counterintuitive; people might think, 'When I'm frustrated, I start moving the mouse faster,'' says BYU professor Jeffrey Jenkins. "Well, no, you actually start moving slower."

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

All I can say is, IT, watch out!

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