Deciphering human emotion communication through skin contact quantification
Subtle contact changes underlying different emotional percepts
March 18, 2022
Shan Xu, Chang Xu, Sarah McIntyre, Håkan Olausson, Gregory J. Gerling
We routinely communicate distinct social and emotional sentiments through nuanced touch. For example, we might gently hold another’s arm to offer a sense of calm, yet intensively hold another’s arm to express excitement or anxiety. As this example indicates, distinct sentiments may be shaped by the subtlety in one’s touch delivery. However, such contact details are still not fully understood due to the difficulty in quantifying naturalistic human touch.
This work investigates how slight distinctions in skin-to-skin contact influence both the recognition of cued emotional messages (e.g., anger, sympathy) and the rating of emotional content (i.e., arousal, valence).
This work shows how touchers subtly, but significantly, vary the magnitudes of their skin-to-skin contact to convey distinct social messages. Besides improving receivers’ recognition of cued messages, this subtle tuning also correlates with receivers’ perception of underlying valence and arousal. For instance, arousal increases with velocity for stroking, and depth for holding. More interestingly, valence is tied with velocity, here for the case of human-to-human touch, which matches the trend that has been widely reported and reproduced in the case of brushing stimuli.
Experimentalsetup with 3D visual tracking system
Delivered bythe same gesture, contact attributes change across emotional messages
Contact attributes encode valence andarousal states
Xu, S., Xu, C., Mcintyre, S., Olausson, H., & Gerling, G. J. Subtle Contact Nuances in the Delivery of Human-to-Human Touch Distinguish Emotional Sentiment. [DOI] IEEE Transactions on Haptics. 2022
Xu, S., Xu, C., Mcintyre, S., Olausson, H., & Gerling, G. J. 3D Visual Tracking to Quantify Physical Contact Interactions in Human-to-Human Touch. [DOI] Frontiers in Physiology. 2022
Gregory J. Gerling
Professor, Systems Engineering
151 Engineer's Way Charlottesville, Virginia 22904 Phone: 434-924-0533