Does Biological Motion Transmit Information about the Emotional States of Others?

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Literature Review: Does Biological Motion Transmit Information About the Emotional States of Others?
Actors and normal people alike, have exploited the ability to display emotion through body movement for centuries. However, until not long ago, psychologists considered body movements only as displays of the intensity of emotions not their specificity. Instead, facial expressions were thought to be crucial for the judgement of emotions (Ekman, 1973). It was not until the second half of the twentieth century that research into biological motion illustrated that emotional state can be judged by body movement, even if only basic emotions such as anger or happiness. However, the evolutionary function of humans’ ability to express emotion was suggested a whole century earlier by Darwin (1872).
According to Darwin (1872), each basic emotion has a combination of postures, expressions and gestures and the ability to recognise emotions has an adaptive advantage. Following on from this theory, Walk (1984), later proposed the ‘alarm hypothesis’ which states that the emotions of anger and fear are more readily recognisable in order to aid survival. Several of the following studies have addressed this theory. This review will examine the literature into the human ability to detect the emotional state of others through biological motion as further insight could help people with impaired social functions, such as those suffering from autism or schizophrenia. The following areas will be

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