Most people can tell if you are angry by looking at your face or behaviour but what if how you move a computer mouse can predict your anger or frustration? According to professor Jeffrey Jenkins from Brigham Young University, people experiencing anger and other negative emotions like frustration, confusion and sadness become less precise in their mouse movements and move the cursor at different speeds.
"Using this technology, websites will no longer be dumb. 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," Jenkins explained.
According to his 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 counter-intuitive. People might think, 'When I'm frustrated, I start moving the mouse faster,'' Jenkins said. "Well, no, you actually start moving slower." The greatest application of his research is that web developers will be able to adapt or fix sore points in websites that bring out negative emotions.
In other words, now the people running the online ticket website that drives you bonkers will know exactly when you throw up your hands and scream. "Being able to sense a negative emotional response, we can adjust the website experience to eliminate stress or to offer help," Jenkins added.
The cursor-tracking concept can also be applied to mobile devices, where swipes and taps replace mouse movement. The research appeared in the journal MIS Quarterly.