Innovations, Emotions and Body Language

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Emotional insight is a key to innovation. Surprised? Well, it is often not the first aspect that is examined when discussing innovations but emotions fuels it in two significant ways. An understanding of the needs and desires helps an innovator to find breakthrough ideas. In addition, understanding the emotions that a new product or idea may evoke in the customers, offer marketers a way to optimise the design and marketing.

  • Convenience delivers pleasurable feelings.
  • Lower price make us feel good.
  • Environmental friendly aspects make us happy since we have bought something that is good.

Yet we often spend little time to explore emotions and feelings.

Let us imagine that you have this brilliant idea and you want to find out what your friends think about it. If you want to gauge their feelings, where do you look?

Many of us might suggest the face.

Yet looking at someone’s face when deciding how he or she feels is a misconception.  It is difficult to read positive and negative emotions by looking at someone’s face. And the research behind these ideas have often relied on posed prototypical facial expressions.


By using photos from a real situation where a person experience various emotions, for example, winning or losing a point in tennis, it was found that we are better at reading the emotion if we get access to a photo showing face and body as compared to just the face or the body. Facial expressions can be ambiguous and difficult to read when viewed independently.

This result challenges our presumption that our face best communicates emotions and feelings. Interestingly, extreme positive and negative emotions are difficult to tell apart.  When our emotions reach a certain intensity, the intricacies of facial expressions get lost. Just like when you turn the headset on too loud and the music becomes distorted.

“Illusory facial affect” means that we cannot tell the difference, even though we think we can. There are many aspects of body language that we are not aware of.

Go here to read more about facial expression and here to read about research that suggests that our facial expressions are inborn.  Our  blog post about Lying in a Creative Way has two videos about reading body language.

Photo: “Businessman Running Away” by stockimages


One Reply to “Innovations, Emotions and Body Language”

  1. Interesting topic, and a nicely succinct exploration of it.
    A few things to bear in mind when “reading” body language. The first is that many people possess as status quo a certain bodily posture that they’re not aware of having adopted or currently display. Perhaps as children they adopted this posture to mimic teachers or parents or other family members. Often, people who do this don’t really feel emotionally the emotions connected to that body posture or facial expression. But they commonly do have to deal with the reactions others have to their appearance – and this can lead to an “attitude problem” when the person doesn’t understand why they are continually misunderstood.
    The second is that these expressions are not necessarily “inborn,” but some can be. For instance, if you have a large upper jaw and small lower jaw, your mouth will appear to frown when in fact it’s merely how your face is shaped. One friend of mine caught lots of trouble for having a face that “smirked” in its natural, relaxed state.

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