Final Project Proposal - Forming a Vocabulary for Emoting



In social interaction in the real world, people augment their speech with emotional expressions. Many of these expressions are universal: a Duchenne smile (a smile with raised cheeks) connotes happiness regardless of the culture in which it is expressed. Such emotional displays allow us to give context and meaning to our conversation. Indeed, the same sentence can take on wildly different meanings merely by being delivered with a different facial expression and vocal intonation. Facial displays of emotion form a natural vocabulary for non-verbal social interaction.

Such a vocabulary for expressing emotion exists in other media as well. Perhaps the most visible of these is the comic. Eisner describes a basic vocabulary comic artists use to suffuse their characters with emotion. He also discusses how a change in facial expression can change the interpretation of a line of text. Actors also have a vocabulary which they draw from to impress particular emotions upon their audience.

Online, people interact facelessly. Common, traditional forms of expressing emotion are unavailable to someone interacting in an online chat. The Emoticon represents one way in which people have reintroduced emotional expression into online social environments. Its pervasiveness and universality indicate that it has become part of people's vocabulary for social interaction. Graphical chat environments provide some forms of the Emoticon, however they seem to be very unsatisfying in use (much more than in textual environments). Microsoft's ComicChat takes a step closer to forming a vocabulary of emotes for use in an online graphical chat.


Tracing a line through different media, what are the ways that people express a particular emotion, such as amusement?

What is the extent of the vocabulary for expressing the emotion?

How is the expression of the emotion in different media different?

What is the evolution of the emotional expression from medium to medium?

What are the fundamental and basic properties of the emotional expression within all media?

How can this expression be extended to new media?

How do people form vocabularies of emotional expression, and what are they in different media?


Survey of work in areas where emotional expression is a studied topic (sociology, online chat). Survey of content where available (comics). Examples of emotional expression vocabularies. Suggestions for interfaces that assist in forming vocabularies.



Morphed images of basic emotional expressions: ratings on Russell's bipolar field. Takehara, Takuma. ; Suzuki, Naoto. Perceptual and Motor Skills v. 85 (Dec. '97 pt1) p. 1003-10

Face it!. Making and reading facial expressions. Blum, Deborah. Psychology Today v. 31 no5 (Sept./Oct. '98) p. 32-9+

Facial expressions in Hollywood's portrayal of emotion. Carroll, James M. ; Russell, James A. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology v. 72 (Jan. '97) p. 164-76

Matsumoto and Ekman's Japanese and Caucasian Facial Expressions of Emotion (JACFEE): reliability data and cross-national differences. Biehl, Michael. ; Matsumoto, David. ; Ekman, Paul. Journal of Nonverbal Behavior v. 21 (Spring '97) p. 3-21

Virtual Communities: Abort, Retry, Failure? Jan Fernback & Brad Thompson.

How Many Emotions Are There? Wedding the Social and the Autonomic Components. Theodore D. Kemper. American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 93, No. 2. (Sep., 1987), pp. 263-289.

"HAMNET", Shakespeare's play adapted for irc. First performed 12 December 1993 20:00 GMT on #Hamnet. copyright 1993 The Hamnet Players, San Diego, CA

Curtain Time 20:00 GMT: Experiments with Virtual Theater on Internet Relay Chat. Brenda Danet, Tsameret Wachenhauser, Haya Bechar-Israeli, Amos Cividalli, Yehudit Rosenbaum-Tamari. Dept. of Communication and Journalism, Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Understanding Comics. Scott McCloud.

Comics and Sequential Art. Will Eisner.

Communicative facial displays as a new conversational modality. Akikazu Takeuchi and Katashi Nagao. Conference proceedings on Human factors in computing systems. April 24 - 29, 1993, Amsterdam The Netherlands.

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