Increasing Emotional Engagement in Apps (Part 2)

Takeaway: Body movements commonly associated with certain emotional states can also invoke those emotional states.


Guitar Hero III Cover Image

I recently watched my grown kids play Guitar Hero. They got into the groove and activated Star Power by raising the neck of their guitar, gaining extra points in the process. (You know the move!) The app designers could have accomplished the same thing with a simple button press. Instead, my kids looked like the second coming of Elvis, with their legs spread shoulder-width and knees slightly bent. Can physical actions like the “hero” stance actually impact our emotional engagement in a game?

As user inputs are becoming more complex and variable, given the increasing popularity of depth sensing cameras, developers need to carefully consider how they implement actions in a game. Are there ways to use action to predictably influence the user’s emotions? Understanding how to use movement to influence emotional experiences makes users feel stronger emotions, pay more attention, remember information easier, and stay immersed longer wholesale NFL jerseys in a virtual experience.

New research in the field of Embodied Cognition offers some promising methods for harnessing dynamic user inputs to create powerful digital experiences. Embodied Cognition (discussed in Part 1 of this blog series) is founded on the idea that the way we stand, move, etc. can influence our thoughts and feelings. Current research is helping us understand exactly which body movements lead to which emotional responses. For example, one well-known study showed that simply activating the facial muscles used for cheap nba jerseys smiling can cause a person to feel happier. These muscles can be activated in many ways besides actually smiling (for example, holding a pencil between your teeth). Even when the person is unaware of activating these smile muscles, there is an increase in mood. This means that people don’t have to be aware of the movement they’re making for it to affect their feelings!

Embodied emotions go beyond facial muscles. One study found that sitting up straight can make you feel more confident. Another study reports that clenching your hand into a fist can make you more determined, and nodding your head while listening to a message can make you more persuaded by an argument. All of these effects are non-conscious; we feel the emotional response cheap NFL jerseys without connecting it to the way we’re moving.

The basic premise is this: the brain forms connections between concepts over time, and those connections are bidirectional. Perhaps you are familiar with a similar concept from your Psych 101 class – classical conditioning. If a dog hears a bell every time he eats his food, eventually the bell alone will make him drool. online The same relationship exists between our bodies and emotions. If we smile when we are happy and slouch when we are sad, over a lifetime of pairing our emotions with our actions, our actions can influence our emotions. We are happy when we smile. We are sad when we slouch.


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How can this principle can be applied to interactive design? Maybe the user must strike a heroic pose to “power up” or pantomime shaking hands when cheap NFL jerseys meeting a new ally. Squeezing a controller could (in theory) increase feelings of determination. Perhaps having an image out-of-focus so the user squints, causing a furrowing of the brow, will elicit (Standar) negative feelings associated with scowling.

Physical actions have the potential to invoke a predictable emotional response from the user, making the experience more vivid and memorable. Bad guys can feel more bad, and action scenes can feel more exciting. Along with evoking emotions from the images and sounds feature2 in an app, developers can use the mind-body connection to trigger emotional responses in the brain. The principal of embodied cognition seems to be an under-utilized (Part tool in game design. How are you using movement to initiate a feeling in your apps?

Stay tuned for the final installment of The Mind-Body Connection, when I discuss implications for the design of augmented and virtual reality applications.


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