, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 241-260

The perception of interpersonal emotions originated by patterns of movement

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Three experiments were designed to assess whether the perception of interpersonal emotions induced by animated geometric figures, such as those used by Heider and Simmel (1944) and Michotte (1950), vary consensually among observers according to the specific kinetic stimuli presented. Using Michotte's original disk method, the first experiment showed eight kinetic structures to 60 subjects who were asked to describe their perceptions on rating scales. The perceptions were shown to vary according to the dynamic features of the stimulus, and a high degree of interobserver consensus was generally recorded. In the second experiment, subjects were shown human silhouettes animated according to the same kinetic structures as those of experiment 1. The profiles of their answers were generally similar to those recorded for animated geometric figures, but the consensus tended to be weaker. The third experiment compared the rating scale descriptions of five kinetic structures made by European, American, and African subjects tested in their own countries. The perceptions of European and American subjects were very close to each other for the larger part of the material. The data of the Africans differed from the Americans in one way and from the Europeans in another way.