Mouse movements when operating a computer are indicative of the user’s true emotions, a recent study presented in the Journal MIS Quarterly has revealed.
The initial aim of the researchers, led by Jeffrey Jenkins, professor of information systems at Brigham Young University, was to test if negative emotions result in changing the way an individual uses a computer mouse.
In the first experiment, a group of 65 participants selected haphazardly from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk were asked to complete a HIT (human intelligence task), requiring them to arrange a string of numbers in the correct order.
However, the test had actually been devised as a source of nuisance and unhappiness for the users. The questions took too long to appear on the screen, and a large number of points were deducted every time the subject failed to answer correctly.
Eventually, by the time participants had finished the assessment, they were completely riled up. Researchers then examined the motions that the subjects had made with the computer mouse as the experiment unfolded.
They discovered that as feelings of distress, anxiety and chagrin took over, individuals were much more likely to move their gadgets frantically, in uncontrolled bursts.
Another obvious change was that motions appeared to be lagging, because participants were getting increasingly more distracted, which was actually a baffling discovery for scientists, who had expected gestures to be accelerated as a result of heightened nervous tension.
Because of these alterations, the cursor’s trajectory, which normally consists in a straight line, or in a slight curve, was seldom the one that had been planned, and performance was even more severely affected.
In a subsequent trial, a group of 126 people accessing a fake online shopping website were also angered by researchers, who had an 81.7% success rate when it came to precisely identifying the individuals who had been the most vexed.
One last experiment involving 80 web users trying to use a faulty customization tool showed that jerky mouse movements can indeed show not unfavorable reactions, but also the actual level of discontent.
Now, study authors are hoping that they could use their findings so as to aid web designers in building more user-friendly sites.
Normally, a website can be accessed from all over the world, by millions of people, and it’s impossible to involve all these individuals in a poll assessing their attitude regarding the way the collection of pages is displayed and presented.
It’s equally unthinkable to capture all of these people’s facial expressions while navigating from different page elements, in order to detect easily anger or annoyance.
However, it appears that simple mouse movements, which can be easily tracked, are actually enough in order to determining the level of frustration, stress or bewilderment experienced by visitors when going through a website.
Therefore, site owners would be provided with the chance to closely monitor visitors’ degree of satisfaction, so that they can revamp the web user interface and change page elements, so as to provide a more fulfilling and enjoyable browsing experience.
This would eventually result in making websites much more adaptable to the visitors’ demands and needs than ever before, while also assisting in boosting traffic and increasing user engagement.
Furthermore, study authors are of the opinion that their technique of assessing emotions by mouse movements could also be adapted to smartphones as well, by tracking the way users employ gestures such as taps and swipes as they access a website’s mobile version.
Image Source: Pixabay