The role of computational and subjective features in emotional body expressions

Marta Poyo Solanas, Maarten J. Vaessen, Beatrice de Gelder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Humans are experts at recognizing intent and emotion from other people's body movements; however, the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we computed quantitative features of body posture and kinematics and acquired behavioural ratings of these feature descriptors to investigate their role in affective whole-body movement perception. Representational similarity analyses and classification regression trees were used to investigate the relation of emotional categories to both the computed features and behavioural ratings. Overall, postural rather than kinematic features discriminated better between emotional movements for the computed as well as for the behavioural features. In particular, limb angles and symmetry appeared to be the most relevant ones. This was observed independently of whether or not the time-related information was preserved in the computed features. Interestingly, the behavioural ratings showed a clearer distinction between affective movements than the computed counterparts. Finally, the perceived directionality of the movement (i.e. towards or away from the observer) was found to be critical for the recognition of fear and anger.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6202
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2020

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