Computer software could read how fast your mouse is moving, and react accordingly to calm you down
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 the Brigham 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.
Jenkins expects his research to have applications for web developers who can use it to inform how people are interacting with their sites. This could be anything from knowing when users are frustrated with the content, to understanding the time limit for when users become so frustrated that they leave.
“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.”
He expects swipes and taps on a mobile device could also yield similar results, but says he still needs to do more research into this.