Our Own Action Kinematics Predict the Perceived Affective States of Others

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Abstract

Our movement kinematics provide useful cues about our affective states. Given that our experiences furnish models that help us to interpret our environment, and that a rich source of action experience comes from our own movements, in the present study, we examined whether we use models of our own action kinematics to make judgments about the affective states of others. For example, relative to one’s typical kinematics, anger is associated with fast movements. Therefore, the extent to which we perceive anger in others may be determined by the degree to which their movements are faster than our own typical movements. We related participants’ walking kinematics in a neutral context to their judgments of the affective states conveyed by observed point-light walkers (PLWs). As predicted, we found a linear relationship between one’s own walking kinematics and affective state judgments, such that faster participants rated slower emotions more intensely relative to their ratings for faster emotions. This relationship was absent when observing PLWs where differences in velocity between affective states were removed. These findings suggest that perception of affective states in others is predicted by one’s own movement kinematics, with important implications for perception of, and interaction with, those who move differently.

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