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Websites could read emotions by seeing how fast you move your mouse

Computer software could read how fast your mouse is moving, and react accordingly to calm you down

A gamer uses a computer mouse

Slow movements can show anger Photo: Bloomberg
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When a colleague starts banging their mouse on the desk it’s normally fair to assume that they’re annoyed, stressed or experiencing some kind of negative emotions. Working off this assumption, researchers at theBrigham Young University, Utah, have found that people do use their mouse differently depending on their mood.

People who are angry are more likely to use the mouse in a jerky and sudden, but surprisingly slow fashion, the research found. People who feel frustrated, confused or sad are less precise in their mouse movements and move it at different speeds.

“It’s counter-intuitive; people might think, ‘When I’m frustrated I start using the mouse faster,’” said Jeffrey Jenkins, the lead author of the study. “Well, no, you actually start moving slower.”

Jenkins tested the theory by making test subjects angry and tracking their mouse movements. He riled them up with a timed test that had purposefully slow loading times, and that penalised the subjects for a wrong answer. To top it off, the test told subjects that a bad score was equal to low intelligence.

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